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Principals have mixed views on changing schools

Principals in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District are courageously facing the district’s decision to move them to different schools.

For many, the change is colored with sadness as well as a certain amount of excitement about future challenges.

“Bijou has been home for 16 years. Leaving is really hard,” said Virginia Matus-Glenn, who will be moving from Bijou Community School to Sierra House Elementary. “I’ve seen a whole generation come through here. I know this community so well. But I know I’ll get to know the Sierra House community just as well.”



Matus-Glenn is one of the district’s four elementary school principals who will change sites in the 1999/2000 school year. Next fall, Karen Tinlin will be at Al Tahoe Elementary; Jim Watson at Bijou Community School and Doug Forte at Meyers Elementary.

Jackie Nelson will remain principal at Tahoe Valley Elementary because she was transferred there only 2 1/2 years ago.




“I’m the kind of person who’s always open to change. I would have been comfortable moving,” Nelson said of the decision to keep her at Tahoe Valley. “But I’m thrilled to keep moving forward with the things that we’ve gotten started here. I could have easily stayed or gone, but in terms of this school, I think it’s great to have the continuity.”

For Jim Watson, now principal at Al Tahoe, the move represents a sort of a journey back to his roots.

“When I came to the district in 1984, I was hired as a fourth-grade teacher at Bijou,” Watson said. “So I’ll really be going back to where I came from.”

Watson has worked at Al Tahoe eight years, during which he painstakingly guided students, parents and staff through a quagmire of primary language instruction, class-size reduction and modernization.

“The change is uncomfortable right now because we’ve worked really hard creating teams,” Watson said. “Change is good but it’s really difficult leaving the people I work with now. I’ll miss them a great deal.”

Bijou’s Matus-Glenn will also be revisiting her old stomping grounds.

“I was principal at Sierra for a year when I first came to the district. But they moved me to Bijou because I speak Spanish,” Matus-Glenn said. “Sierra is a smaller school. It will be an interesting change.”

In the next six months, the principals will have to continue focussing on their present schools, while slowly beginning the transition process. Although the process will be difficult, the administrators remain positive.

“Change sometimes brings struggles. But it is also an opportunity for us to grow and learn,” said Matus-Glenn.

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