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Update: Passing the baton


Nelson’s tenure honored as principal search begins

Tears, laughs, memories, and gratitude flowed among teachers and administrators visibly Dec. 16, 2015 at the “Independence Celebration” thrown for former principal Randy Nelson, who announced his resignation prior to Finals Week for personal, family, and health reasons.

His startling news started both a multi-month search for a new chief and a resounding effort by teachers and students to celebrate a principal known to be deeply loyal to the campus.
“Greatest,” “loved,” and “missed,” were all words spoken to or about Nelson in Bearcat Hall prior to winter break. Tears from teachers, students, and staff fell as Nelson’s 19 years at PRHS were celebrated. Students, teachers, and colleagues of Nelson spoke to him, a pink boa was draped over his shoulders, and an eight-teacher band performed “Free Bird” in honor of his requested move to Liberty HS.

Randy Nelson, retired PRHS principal

In the audience were Interim Principal Jennifer Gaviola and several who will be a part of the search for a new principal in the weeks ahead.

Nelson’s position has been posted on EdJoin, a nation-wide educational employment search engine created to enlist serving administrators and teachers Each position entered – principal of PRHS, for instance – will list the desired qualifications of aspiring applicants for the position.The job is advertised via EdJoin and through the high school.

Groups of teachers, students recommended by leadership, and parents will be contacted to discuss desired qualities of the upcoming principal. Community input is essential, according to Gaviola, because these are the main recipients of the new principal. With their input, Gaviola said, the hope is to build the vision of the ideal principal for everyone.

“When we get that overall feeling from our big groups–students, community, parents and staff–,” Gaviola said, “then the HR department will screen the applicants when there are enough viable applicants who meet the standard.”

Interviewing will involve two to three total interviews consisting of a prompt and a presentation on the part of the applicants, under the judgment of the group of students and parents previously consulted, along with one to two teachers. Each applicant is given the same prompt, and their presentation is done in the presence of the other applicants. After the first round, the top few candidates move on to a second interview session, where another prompt is given and the superintendent is included in the interview panel.

“The interview process can take anywhere from a month to six months depending on the pool of applicants,” said Gaviola, who has gone through the program herself. “If there was one person who applied they will expand the search, they’ll look at how to recruit more viable applicants, those type of things.” Gaviola added, “they need to be able to fill some really big shoes”
The desired applicant is then brought to the board for adoption. Applicants have just started to collect.

Nelson’s made clear that his decision was not easy. “This was something that I had been thinking about for a while and had discussions with family members; I brought it to the district [fairly recently].” said Nelson. “The job duties of a principal are many and challenging, and you can only do it for so long.”

Nelson has just begun a new position as a teacher at Independence High School, going back to the roots of his career, where he taught for his first four years in the district. He looks forward to working closer with students there; however, he will still remember all of his experiences at Paso Robles High School with fondness.

“I will treasure the memories for the rest of my life,” said Nelson, who reiterated how proud he is of the students and staff he is leaving behind.

Gaviola, who has worked in administration for 10 years–compared to her 10 months in the district–will be stepping in for Nelson until a new principal is hired. As the District Director of Secondary Education, she oversees the curriculums of the middle and high schools.

“Because I support the secondary schools it’s just a natural transition to step in and help the team,” said Gaviola, who herself graduated PRHS in 1992.
“As a principal who’s stepping away, I’m really proud… [I believe] the school will be in good hands” Nelson said.


PRHS says goodbye to Principal Randy Nelson

“Greatest,” “loved,” and “missed,” were all words spoken to or about resigning Principal Randy Nelson in Bearcat Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Tears fell from a multitude of teachers, students, and staff as Nelson’s 19 years at PRHS were celebrated. The hour long ceremony held approximately 75 adults and 15 students. After students, teachers, and colleagues of Nelson  spoke, the lyrics of “Free Bird” fell from Drama teacher Marcy Goodnow’s mouth. Behind the lyrics was a musical performance by eight  teachers and one student.       

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