Whittell principal returning to classroom
George Whittell High School Principal Larry Snyder is stepping down.
Snyder announced May 10 to Whittell staff and Douglas County School Board members that this June would be his last as Whittell’s principal, and that he accepted a transfer to Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School in Gardnerville, Nev. as a physical education teacher. Snyder, who has worked as a teacher for 20 years and as a school administrator for 15 in various school districts in California, is finishing his second year at Whittell.
“It was an easy decision,” he said. “I’m going back to the classroom.”
But it wasn’t a hasty decision. Snyder said he’s been pondering the move for a few months.
The 62-year-old said the rigors of being a principal in a small school such as Whittell, with its 250 students, finally got to him. He said that at larger schools there may be three or more people to handle the job that he does at Whittell and that the time constraints placed on him were a cause of stress.
“It’s just depressing to see the paperwork stacked up on my desk,” he said. “And there’s no one else to hand it to at Whittell.
“When you get to be in your 60s, it gets to be tougher and tougher to put in the long days. It’s a younger man’s game.”
Pendery Clark, superintendent of Douglas County schools, said that Snyder’s case resembles a nationwide problem.
“I think schools across the nation are finding it harder and harder to find school administrators,” she said. “The research shows that many administrators are not wanting those positions because of requirement pressures, more law suits, a more litigious society and added paper work.”
But she seemed confident that the district would find a replacement for Snyder by next school year.
“One way or another there will be someone in that administrative position this fall,” Clark said.
The job was posted Tuesday and will remain open until the middle of June, when the district will start filing through the applications.
Clark agreed with Snyder about the challenges that face a principal at a small school and said that the district will look for applicants that possess the skills to carry on the job.
“It’s a tremendous responsibility, even though its only 250 kids,” Clark said. “We want the most qualified person – someone who can handle athletic activities, student discipline and logistics.”
Some say that student discipline was one of Snyder’s strong points as a principal.
“He was always a fair and just disciplinarian,” said Maggie Allen, Douglas County School District’s communications liaison.
Snyder, himself, agreed.
“If there’s anything I brought to Whittell it was a sense of structure and order,” he said. “And consistent discipline was established.”
But Snyder said that he’s ready to give all of those accomplishments up.
“I’m really excited about next year,” Snyder said. “Teaching and coaching is what I enjoyed the most in my career.”
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