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.