Principal Sharyl Allen is getting settled in at White Pine Middle School. (Staff photo by Lukas Eggen)

Principal Sharyl Allen is getting settled in at White Pine Middle School. (Staff photo by Lukas Eggen)

White Pine County Middle School has a rich recent history of getting positive national attention. From being named a national model school to positive attention to the school’s anti-bullying measures, the school established itself on a national scale. Now, the middle school sees a new principal take over.

For new principal Sharyl Allen, she is looking to continue the school’s strengths and work to improve the school even more in other areas. Allen, who worked in Arizona prior to coming to Ely, said she always had Ely in the back of her mind.

“What attracted me was years ago I taught with a teacher that actually told me her hometown was Ely, Nevada and that it was a wonderful place,” Allen said. “Sometimes people plant seeds that years later go maybe that’s worth checking out. Nevada has a lot of positive attributes and qualities. So put the seed planted with Nevada and a very good school district and it generated interest.”

As a new school year begins, it has been a quick process for Allen to learn about Ely, White Pine County and the school district.

“The most difficult part in transition is simply learning the culture and the way business is done,” Allen said. “So every school and every district has things that are unique to them. It’s learning the ropes of a new place, so asking lots of questions and doing lots of listening and assimilating a good deal.”

In order to help students perform at a high level, Allen said they will be stressing three areas to help children succeed in the classroom.

“First and foremost is the relationship that we have with the family and the parents,” Allen said. “The parent is the first teacher of their child and long after we’re gone, the most substantial influence in someone’s life is that of family. We’re working diligently to strengthen the engagement of the family.”

While parents and children have a variety of responsibilities and activities during the week, sitting down, even if it’s for as little as 15 minutes with children can make a world of difference, Allen said.

“If there was one thing parents could do or families cold do that would make a tremendous difference in a child’s achievement, it would be to take the time to sit down and have dinner together because the research coming out of that simple action and talking about what happened that day is showing tremendous gains in student learning,” Allen said.

The second area is building on student engagement. By improving student engagement, Allen said the school will see an increase in performance from its students.

“It’s about building relationships and getting students engaged in their own learning,” Allen said. “When you get that piece in place, the achievements take care of itself.”

The third area of focus will be to get the community to get engaged at a regional, state and national level. While school districts are a constant focus on a national level, through initiatives like the county school district’s technology plan, White Pine County School District is creating a strong base for its students’ futures. And whether its through teaching the Cougar Traits or integrating new technologies, Allen said the school’s focus remains on giving students knowledge and traits that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

“We need to continue forward looking and bring the tools that our kids need for today,” Allen said. “But every student needs a foundation, just like a house needs a foundation. School from day one is the building of a strong foundation.”