By Adam Young

Special to the Times

The Nevada Association of School Boards held its annual conference

Courtesy photo From left, Cammie Briggs, Julie Heggie, Lori Hunt, Collin Young, Hailey Ernest, Britney Kingston

Courtesy photo
From left, Cammie Briggs, Julie Heggie, Lori Hunt, Collin Young, Hailey Ernest, Britney Kingston

Thursday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 19.  The conference is a chance for school trustees in Nevada’s 17 school districts to learn from national experts, share with each other, and collaborate towards the betterment of education for all of Nevada’s students.

White Pine sent three newly elected board members, who take office in January, to the New Board Member training on Thursday, where they learned about trustee ethics, special education requirement and more. Pete Mangum and Lori Hunt, veteran White Pine trustees, and Shella Nicholes, who is in her first term, attended the new member orientation along with Jessica Trask, Candice Campeau and Angela McVicars.

Friday and Saturday’s sessions consisted of speakers focusing on leading education transformation at the board level, promoting healthy board and superintendent relationships, and examining nationwide and Nevada student performance as measured by various measures. Trustee Matt Hibbs joined the rest of the team for these presentations.

The highlight of the event was Saturday evening, when a number of White Pine education advocates were recognized by NASB in its annual awards ceremony. David E. Norman principal Cammie Briggs was presented with the Nevada School Administrator of the Year award in acknowledgment of her work to provide each and every child at the school with access to a guaranteed and viable learning experience. Briggs was noted as being committed to the “excellence and equity” of the learning environment at the school. In other words, the nomination stated, Briggs promotes a school where each and every student is enrolled and embraced regardless of socio economic status, family challenges, or prior learning experience. David E. Norman’s efforts in the 2016-2107 school year reflect Briggs’s commitment to these dual objectives as the school offers a “Readers and Leaders Academy” on Fridays for students who want to improve or enrich their reading skills, before and after school tutoring, and a newly created Gifted and Talented program which will launch in January.  In other words, students who really struggle as well as students who want to stretch, all receive opportunities and support.

White Pine executive secretary Julie Heggie was recognized as the “Board Secretary of the Year.” Heggie is the secretary to the school board and to the superintendent.  She handles personnel files, coordinating and communicating with board members, reports to the Nevada Department of Education, correspondence to and from the superintendent’s office, preparing materials and recording minutes of board meetings, managing expenses of the board and superintendent, licensing of employees, and many more responsibilities.  Heggie’s nomination reported her as “indispensable,” and particularly essential during the transition between superintendents which occurred from May through July of 2016.

The White Pine High School Digital Publishing Staff and The Ely Times were honored as the “Best Media Coverage of Education” in a county under 100,000 people. The two organizations collaborate to publish the Pinenut every four to five weeks.  The Digital Publishing class, under the direction of former principal and current superintendent Adam Young, is in its third year of existence. The class manages the school website, Facebook page, and (up until this year) engages in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum of reading and writing. With Young changing jobs, the staff reduced from 25 students last year to three this year. The students are now largely in charge of managing themselves, including doing their own editing, layouts and research.  The three students on this year’s staff—Hailey Ernest, Collin Young and Britney Kingston—attended the awards ceremony and proudly represented their community as aspiring journalists.  The nomination stated, “the partnership between The Ely Times and the Digital Publishing staff provides an outlet for these students to publish their own work, exposing them to 21st Century skills like collaborating, researching, and communicating to a real audience.”

White Pine education advocate Lori Hunt was recognized as one of two “Individual Board Member of the Year” recipients. Hunt was first appointed as a White Pine trustee in 2006. She is currently the WPHS liaison, a member of the NASB Executive Committee, and an advocate for the Nevada Children’s Trust Lands movement. Hunt’s work on the Children’s Trust Lands committee is geared towards increasing funding earmarked for education by utilizing a law which has been on the books (but ignored) for generations. Hunt is also the chair for the White Pine board and spends numerous hours every week in the schools and laboring on behalf of local students.

Departing school board members Mary Kerner, Denys Koyle and Shellie Watts were also recognized at the NASB conference for the countless hours they have contributed to Nevada’s and White Pine’s students.