Say hello to Mario: |

Say hello to Mario:

Jill Darby

A family man, an educator, a dedicated administrator, a lasagna lover – this is Mario Gatto.

At the May 16 Board of Trustees meeting, Douglas County School District Superintendent Pendery Clark said she will recommend Gatto for the principal position at Whittell High School. If the board approves, he will take over administrative duties at Whittell in the fall.

“I’m very fortunate to follow in the footsteps of Dick Brownfield,” Gatto said. “It is obvious that he has done so much to make Whittell the fine school that it is.”

Gatto, principal at Virgin Valley Junior/Senior High School in Mesquite, Nev., is responsible for supervising and evaluating 47 teachers and 30 support staff members. His instructional and disciplinary duties cover 940 students.

Mario and his wife Kim have a 2-year-old son, Taylor, and a baby on the way. Gatto said relocating will be good for the family.

“I think it’s a healthier environment for my family, and it is just beautiful up there,” said 36-year-old Gatto, who was one of the youngest high school principals in Nevada last year. “I sit in my office here in the desert, just thinking about how beautiful it is there and it is such a great community.”

A year or so back, before considering leaving Mesquite, Gatto visited Tahoe with the Virgin Valley soccer team. He said he has loved it ever since.

“I grew up in New York around a lot of trees and I guess it just sort of brought me back to that,” he said.

Before working at Virgin Valley Junior/Senior High, Gatto held athletic director and or teaching positions at Western High School in Las Vegas, Laughlin High School in Laughlin, Nev., and Basic High School in Henderson, Nev.

“I’ve worked at big schools and smaller schools,” he said. “Clark County is a large school district, and one of the things I’m looking forward to is Douglas County is a much smaller district.”

Gatto said he is not the type to stay in his office and run the school from behind closed doors.

“I’m really involved with kids,” he said. “That’s the whole focus of what I do. I think I can relate to kids. I like to be involved with them as much as possible, not only inside the classroom but outside as well. I want to be out there.”

Soccer tournaments, school plays and choir festivals are just a few of the adventures Gatto explores with his students. He said he looks forward to experiencing extra-curricular and school-related activities at South Shore.

“I look forward to working with the staff, community, parents and students,” Gatto said, adding that he believes it is important to live at South Shore rather than in the valley, so he can be accessible to parents and community members. “I like being involved in community-oriented things as well as school-oriented things.”

In a written statement, Gatto explained his philosophy on teamwork and how it can apply to Whittell.

“I believe high school is more than an educational institution,” he said. “It needs to be an important part of the community. The team we build includes parents, staff, business leaders and community members. We ensure open, two-way communication and our goal is simple – do all we can to make the learning experience at Whittell the best one possible.”

Learning about Douglas County School District’s competencies and standard-based system will be a welcomed challenge, Gatto said.

“I need to get familiar with Douglas County and its procedures. I think the biggest challenge is just the learning curve for me.”

The Gatto family hopes to move to South Lake Tahoe by June, and Mario said he wants to start getting acquainted with students, parents, faculty and community members as soon as possible.

“Kim, Taylor and I look forward to this new and challenging experience,” Gatto said.

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