Administrators Ryan, Pace lead ZCES, Whittell

Ashleigh Goodwin /
Sean Ryan (left) and Jim Pace (right)
Provided/Sean Ryan

ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — Sean Ryan and Jim Pace are principal and vice principal, respectively, this year at George Whittell High School and Zephyr Cove Elementary School.

Ryan, born from a military family in Germany, also has a history of physical education and athletics. Prior to settling in Reno, Ryan traveled in the west and midwest, eventually settling in to run youth and adult sports at the Reno YMCA. 

Ryan’s career led him to charter schools where he assisted in organizing grants and state reports. Ryan said that he and his wife decided to get their teaching credentials at Sierra Nevada College.

“We’ve always worked with kids, and we decided instead of working all summer we would get our teaching credentials and still work with kids and have summers off,” Ryan said.

Pace was born and raised in Reno and spent 16 years teaching at Reno High School and 1 year as the dean of students at Galena High School. Prior to being in education he played baseball for Reno High School, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and then played professional ball with Single-A team the Reno Silver Socks. The 17-year career in education has consistently included a focus on athletics. Pace spent 12 of those years as athletic director with Reno High School.

The Douglas Strategic Planning Committee realized that students aren’t learning the same way they were in the past. With this realization pre-COVID, the teaching style started to shift to ‘EPIC learning.”

“We’re adapting to the needs and individual learning styles,” Ryan said. “Epic stands for Empower, Prepare, Inspire, Connect. Traditional education of children sitting in rows does not work for the children of today for the kids who have been connected via technology from an early age,” Ryan said. 

Ryan takes a big picture approach with his unique position as the administrator of both schools.

“We’re creating a pathway from the elementary school to the desired end goal of them being well educated graduates who can go on to work, military, or post-secondary then we are successful.” 

While the administrators feel confident and ready to take on the year they are still facing understaffing issues. Due to the sizes of the schools Ryan says a big hope is to find teachers, such as a PE teacher who can do both schools; there are 153 students at Whittell and approximately 160 students at ZCES.

The administrators were, up until just the week before starting school, listed on the teaching roster in addition to their administrative duties.

“My name was on the list to teach up until the week before we started but thankfully, we found long term substitutes for those roles,” Ryan said. “I would say we’re fully staffed but we could still benefit from hiring one more position.”

The first day of school for ZCES a teacher took on two classes as one with support staff due to being short staffed by one substitute teacher. Those interested are encouraged to become licensed through Nevada as substitute teachers and retired teachers may consider coming back during this time of critical need.

The process to become a substitute teacher, in the past, has been quite lengthy. Due to the critical need all efforts are being put forward to expedite the process. Applicants must submit to a background check, fingerprinting and have the necessary educational qualifications.

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