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Community Profile: Meet The New IHS VP, Mark Scozzafava

August 18, 2021 | Mary Danahey

MARK SCOZZAFAVA’S ALMOST THREE DECADE CAREER in education has come full circle. As with many of us who have chosen to live here in Tahoe, Mark’s first teaching job happened “by chance,” Scozzafava said. A San Diego native, Scozzafava was staying with a friend in Incline in the early 1990s, enjoying all the recreation the area had to offer but needing a job his first winter in town.  The high school, then, like now, needed substitute teachers, so he became one. Liking the work led him to getting a certificate in special education, which led him to a full-time job at O’Brien Middle School in Reno, before heading back up the mountain to teach special education at Incline high and middle schools. His time as an educator also had Scozzafava teaching social studies, his true passion, at both Incline Middle School (1999–2008) and then at Shaw Middle School (in 2010). “It’s critical we all learn history – not necessarily the little details, but the big picture it provides. Civics prepares us for the real world,” he said. His tenure also includes stints as a middle school dean (Shaw in 2010, Archie Clayton Pre-AP Academy in 2011-2012), as well as posts as Assistant Principal at Billinghurst Middle School (2012–2013) and at Archie Clayton (2013-2020).  When the Assistant Principal position opened up at Incline High School, Scozzafava jumped at the chance to move back up the hill. “I couldn’t wait to come back to Incline. IHS is a top ranked school, with strong academics, great athletics and vibrant Booster support” he said. Over the decades, Scozzafava has seen a good many changes to the education profession. Learning in a digital age has changed the dynamics for both teachers and students. “There’s more standardization in teaching now, toward the goal of Mark Scozzafava, Assistant Principal at Incline High School accountability. At the same time, teachers lose autonomy over their classrooms,” Scozzafava said. And especially now during the pandemic, “students have become even more responsible for their own learning,” he said. “Navigating seven periods, by yourself and remotely, requires discipline and a regimen.” While Scozzafava is confident that our teachers have risen to the challenges of teaching during the pandemic, both he and the IHS staff realize that most students are not getting from online learning what they would out of a more traditional day in the classroom.  Moving toward possible normalcy With the COVID-19 pandemic apparently waning, Scozzafava sees positive signs for the remainder of the school year. “With the start of the second semester, we are moving toward possible normalcy,” Scozzafava said as most of their staff members have been vaccinated. “And even better news is the return to sports – volleyball, tennis, golf and football,” Scozzafava said. While the district tries to determine when schools will be able to go back to full, in-person learning, Incline High has a process to keep students connected to their studies, Scozzafava said. Currently, while classrooms are set up to safely hold only 12–13 pupils, students who feel vulnerable to not staying on course virtually are welcome to come to school every day.  “If there is space in a classroom, they may join. If there is no room, they can take part in a virtual study hall, ON campus, where they can join in on the class, online and under supervision,” he said. Scozzafava knows things have been tough for everyone involved in the process, especially families with both parents working and that have more than one child. On campus, Scozzafava stresses flexibility and tolerance as the skills teachers use to help students during these challenging times. After almost 30 years in education, Scozzafava still loves the profession. He tells grizzled veterans that “you never know the potential impact you might make on somebody’s life. He is optimistic that we are seeing the light at end of tunnel and that we will be able to return to a normal in-person school schedule by next year. “I am excited to help Incline High School become one of the premier schools in the state” he said.

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Community Profile: IHS Principal Tierney Cahill

August 18, 2021 | Kathy Slocum

PRINCIPAL, Tierney Cahill, comes to the post with an inspiring backstory which sheds light on innovative techniques in education she’ll be bringing up the hill with her.

Back in 2000, challenged by the 6th grade class she taught at Sarah Winnemucca Elementary School in Reno, Cahill wound up running for Congress. She had her class run her campaign, offering a prime example of projectbased learning and winding up becoming the Democrat’s nominee in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District. 

That experience caught media attention, including an NPR piece, Ms Cahill Goes To Washington and led to Cahill writing a book with Linden Gross. Ms. Cahill for Congress One Fearless Teacher, Her Sixth-Grade Class, and the Election That Changed Their Lives Forever (2008, Penguin/Random House) garnered national attention and a CSPAN interview by Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in April 2009.

During her 31+ years as an educator, Cahill has had the opportunity to study at both the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is currently taking part in a program on school finance run by Georgetown University.

Of coming to Incline High, Cahill said that she is looking forward to the opportunity, as “there’s potential for innovation and creativity in a small school that is more difficult to create in a larger system.”

Cahill’s approach to education allows for students being involved in solving real world problems.

Her main focus this coming school year, though, will be to find ways to re-engage students back into school, past the pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on education.

“I am concerned about the anxiety and mental health issues of young people. Isolation has not been kind to many children,” she said. “it’s going to be important to really be in tune with our students, build relationships and help them achieve their personal goals.”

Cahill added, “I think we just need to meet kids where they are and not stress them out. This was a worldwide pandemic. How about saying, great job getting through a horrible time. It’s going to get better, and we’re going to be by your side to help you.”

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Business Profile: State Farm Lake Tahoe

August 7, 2021 | Kayla Anderson

“YOU NEVER NEED INSURANCE until you need it,” someone once famously said. Every type of insurance is a unique product. Every customer in the marketplace purchases insurance not because they desire, want, or need it at the time of purchase, but because they might, one day, need it after purchase. The need though, if it arises, is nearly always out of the individual’s control. Insurance is about proper preparation. 

Recently, I sat down with Britney Bladel, owner of the State Farm Agency here in Incline Village. Britney has been in the insurance business since 2008, and her office here in Incline is the second State Farm agency she has owned. Britney 

and I chatted about insurance, the need for it, the various types, and her favorite topic, adequate coverage to properly cover one’s assets and risks. As a full-time Incline local since 2018, Britney worries that many of her fellow residents are underinsured for the true costs of living and rebuilding here at the lake. Britney explained, “Incline Village, and nearly every town on the lake, is very different than the regional or national metrics. Building, or rebuilding here is much more expensive than what other companies set the standard to, or compare to when setting replacement costs.” For instance, Incline Village and Crystal Bay are not truly cost comparable to other Northern Nevada towns such as Fallon, Fernley, or even Reno, yet many people’s insurance is calculated by comparing costs to these dissimilar cities. Insurance is a must-have in case of an emergency, but being underinsured if an emergency strikes could feel just as catastrophic if claimants cannot build or replace to the quality of their assets or lifestyle previous to their loss. 

This past summer, all Tahoe residents were reminded of just how real the threat of wildfire can be with residents being forced to evacuate and prepare for the worst. In a large scale loss total costs to rebuild can actually cost more, not less. Many insured are under the misconception that in a 

mass loss incident replacement costs would be driven down but in Britney’s experience, she has seen the opposite. “Too many people know what they are paying for insurance, yet they do not know what the policy actually covers. There is a huge difference.” 

Navigating that difference is what Britney and her all-female staff do best. All of the agents in her office are residents and licensed in Nevada and California. Each has its own insurance specialty. One of her staff members, also born and raised at the lake, is a native Spanish speaker, ensuring that their office, previously owned by Incline resident, Paul Nannini, can serve everyone in the community. The office
is centrally located, which is just how Britney prefers it as it makes it even easier to get to know local residents.

That is her favorite part of the job. Britney stressed how insurance doesn’t have to be horribly complicated. Insuring for natural disasters or big events can be simplified, but it helps to talk to an expert who not just knows where you live but understands the environment in which you live. For instance, Nevada residents, with a simple endorsement can get earthquake coverage added to their policy. Additionally, all State Farm clients automatically get an additional 20% coverage built into each of their policies which is only common practice with a few select insurance companies. 

Living in a gorgeous and unique place like Incline Village and Crystal Bay certainly has its perks; however, as Britney and her staff know, it can certainly come with nuances and risks. Residents need to be sure they are insured correctly. While Britney is obviously an advocate of State Farm, its 100-year history, and its financial strength, she is also just a promoter of insurance in general. Britney, her staff, and her family are all invested in this community. They are here not only to make it better but to ensure that it will always be here, no matter what might happen. 

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Community Profile: IMS Principal Kari Michael

August 4, 2021 | Ashleigh (Easley) Goodwin

VETERAN EDUCATOR KARI MICHAEL started her job as Incline Middle School principal last July, during the heart of the lingering pandemic.

Michael came to the IMS principal job after spending 14 years serving in various roles at Incline High School. There she had stints as special education department leader, dean of students and assistant principal.

“I come from a long line of educators… “it’s in my blood” Michael said. “Both grandmothers and my mom taught at Kings Beach Elementary School. My grandmothers were there before there were schools in Incline Village. My sister is a music teacher, and many of our cousins are also teachers or principals.”

Michael said she didn’t become a teacher with visions of someday being a principal. She was a special education teacher for 13 years before becoming an administrator. However, she feels her classroom experiences have left her prepared for the position.

“My work as a special education teacher informs my practice daily. Clear expectations. Solid communication. No judgment. Follow through on consequences and move on. Reset. Every student deserves new opportunities to be successful with the support of a team who believes the same,” Michael said.

She believes that it is important to always emphasize “to move on and create more positive memories to replace the negative.”

To that point, Michael said she looks at the current crop of Incline Middle School students and sees their greatest potential.

“I want to push every middle school student to reach for the stars knowing that this community will support them every step of the way,” Michael said.

That support includes a tech drive, led by the Incline Education Fund and Jr Boosters, which raised more than $100,000 and which is allowing all IMS students to be lent new laptops to use for their studies.

While life has been overwhelming the past year, especially for working parents, Michael said keeping in touch with students and their families long past graduation day keeps her motivated. “I am grateful for the relationships I have made during my educational career,” Michael said.

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