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Lone Eureka County school counselor on how to support rural students’ mental health

Plus, a Reno school gym is renamed to honor a coach battling cancer, and a Washoe County School Board trustee is running for Sparks City Council.
Rocio Hernandez
Rocio Hernandez
EducationK-12 Education
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Good morning, and welcome to the Indy Education newsletter. I’m Rocio Hernandez, The Nevada Independent’s K-12 education reporter. 

This newsletter provides a recap of the latest education stories and highlights interesting educators, students, programs and other events and resources throughout the state. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter and receive it each Tuesday via email.

I want to hear from you! Send questions, comments or suggestions on what I should be covering to [email protected]

News briefs

Clark County School District Trustee Evelyn Garcia Morales during school district board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

🏫 New Clark County School Board officers chosen — The Clark County School Board chose Trustees Evelyn Garcia Morales, Irene Bustamante Adams and Lisa Guzman as its board president, vice president and clerk, respectively, during a Jan. 4 special meeting. This will be Garcia Morales’ second term as board president. Bustamante Adams, a former state lawmaker who joined the board in 2023, served as clerk last year. Guzman has been on the board since 2021. 

The special meeting came a day after four new, nonvoting trustees, who were appointed by county and city officials last year, were sworn in and officially joined the school board. 

🗳️ Washoe County school board trustee running for Sparks City Council — On Friday, Washoe County School Board Trustee Joe Rodriguez announced plans to run for Sparks City Council’s Ward 5 seat, which is up for grabs this year and is currently held by Councilman Kristopher Dahir. 

Rodriguez was appointed to the board in 2021 and was elected to a full term in 2022. Rodriguez is also a lieutenant for the Nevada State Police/State Fire Marshal Division and Nevada National Guard veteran. He represents District C, which includes the North Valleys and Spanish Springs communities as well as Natchez and Gerlach. Last year, he was fined $1,000 for an ethics violation related to campaigning in uniform. 

🏀 Reno high school’s gym renamed to honor athletic director — The North Valleys High School gym was renamed in mid-December to honor Richard “Dickie” Peraldo, the school’s long-serving athletic director. Peraldo has also been a basketball coach and special education teacher at the school. The district said Peraldo is battling cancer and has been unable to return to work.  

In October, the Washoe County School Board voted unanimously to approve the name change in recognition of Peraldo’s “profoundly positive impact on his students, athletes and fellow staff members at North Valleys High School,” the district said in a December statement.

School Spotlight

Eureka County High School (Eureka County School District/Courtesy)

Eureka County school counselor dedicated to students’ well-being and happiness

Jaylene Callister is the only school counselor serving students in a rural mining county of fewer than 2,000 people. She says it’s the best job ever.

“I just help kids all day, every day and it's very rewarding,” Callister said. “Obviously, there's hardships, there's heavy things, but overall, even on hard days, my goal is to have kids leave better, leave happier (and) leave with some type of upliftment.” 

The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-school counselor ratio of 250-to-1. In Nevada, that ratio is about 450-to-1, a little higher than the national ratio of 408-1. 

Callister serves as the sole counselor for the Eureka County School District’s 330 students, and splits her time between the district’s two elementary schools and one high school. She starts her mornings at Eureka County High School and ends her day at Eureka Elementary School, about a mile away, making it easy for her to travel between campuses in urgent situations. 

Every other week, Callister works out of the district’s other elementary school, Crescent Valley, which is about a two-hour drive away.

Callister said technology has been critical for supporting Eureka students' mental health. If she’s unable to physically meet with students, she can talk to them through a video call. The district also offers students a free online mental health therapy service, eLuma

Superintendent Tate Else said the online option has been well-received by parents and students, who can sometimes feel apprehensive about talking about their mental health with someone such as Callister, who lives in the same tight-knit community as they do, and would instead prefer to speak with a more removed virtual counselor. 

“It's almost like when they see that face they understand, ‘Hey, this is my safe place to be as open as I want and this person is for me,’ and it's kind of hard to see that face at a basketball game or on a day-to-day basis,” Callister said.

Else said providing mental health services for students is critical in rural areas such as Eureka County, where physical and mental health care providers are limited and often a long drive away. Rural residents tend to experience significant disparities in mental health treatment when compared to residents of urban areas, according to a 2020 article from the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science from Cambridge University.  

Else said the school district has also been focused on getting students reengaged in their school and their learning after the pandemic, when some students got used to working alone or didn’t have firm expectations. Callister said increasing parent engagement and involving them into their child’s education is another important component of her work. 

“It definitely helps in all aspects if everyone's a team and works together,” she said. 

Have a student or staffer who we should feature in the next edition of School Spotlight? Share your nominations with me at [email protected].

Reading Assignments

Indy Q&A: Washoe superintendent says K-12 underfunding won’t be fixed in single session

Outgoing Washoe County School District Superintendent Susan Enfield spoke with The Nevada Independent about her accomplishments and what lessons she’s learned over her 17 months on the job, and weighed in on the recent boost to K-12 education funding and what more is needed.  

Indy Q&A: New state charter school leader envisions better busing, facilities and pay

The newest executive director of the State Public Charter School Authority said she’s optimistic about new transportation options that will soon be available at charter schools thanks to a 2023 bill that allocated $14 million to provide busing, but is still concerned that they don’t get equitable funding compared with their district counterparts. 

Nonvoting trustees take their seats on the Clark County School Board

The Clark County School Board grew by four members after new nonvoting trustees, who were appointed by local municipalities last year, were sworn in during a special meeting last Tuesday. 

Extra Credit

CCSD hopes for transparent contract negotiations in future

Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun that he’d like to see negotiations between school districts and bargaining units become open to the public to hold employers and unions accountable, speed along the process and help the community understand what’s going on. 

MTSS: System helps build Empire of consistency

A Carson City elementary school is focused on reinforcing positive student behavior rather than emphasizing what students did wrong as part of its Multi-Tiered System of Support, the Nevada Appeal reported. 

Events           

🍎 Washoe County School Board meeting — Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2 p.m.

The agenda includes board officer elections and a possible vote to approve a job description for a permanent superintendent. 

🍎State Board of Education meeting — Wednesday, Jan. 10, 9 a.m. 

The agenda includes a presentation on the implementation of the Read by Grade 3 program and a recommendation to withdraw draft regulatory language on high school start times. 

🍎 Clark County School Board meeting — Thursday, Jan. 11, 5 p.m. 

The agenda includes a presentation on the district’s graduation rates. This week’s meeting will be held at Northeast Career and Technical Academy on 405 W. Dorrell Lane in North Las Vegas. 

📕 Spread the Word Nevada book sale — Saturday, Jan. 13, 8 a.m. to noon 

Spread the Word Nevada is having a sale where shoppers can buy as many books as can fit in one bag for $5. The books on sale are mostly geared toward teens and adults. Free teacher resources and books for classrooms will also be available. The sale will take place at Spread the Word Nevada’s warehouse at 1065 American Pacific Drive, Suite 160 in Henderson. 

Featured social media post

Young adults at Chaparral High School in east Las Vegas are ready to exercise their right to vote. 

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