By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
There is a new administrator patrolling the halls of Moapa Valley High School and everyone is excited about it. The school lost its dean position last year, due to budget cuts and has been operating without the position for nearly a year. But now, at long last, the position has been restored and Dr. James Lake was hired to the job.
Lake was born and raised in Manteca, CA about 40 miles south of Sacramento. He graduated from Galt High School where his dad was his principal.
After graduation, he spent two years playing basketball for the University of Nebraska before moving back to California to finish an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree in history from California State University Stanislaus.
While finishing up his schooling, he worked for Stanislaus County Office of Education as an alternative education teacher for at-risk youth, eventually becoming an administrator.
Discovering he really loved helping kids, Lake continued with his education and got a doctorate degree in educational leadership. He continued working in the Stanislaus area for the next 7 years before leaving to become an assistant principal at Patterson High School in Patterson, CA. After two years in Patterson, he moved to Modesto, CA, again as an assistant principal before taking a job at Greenville High School as principal, where he stayed for the next three years.
Dr. Lake continued as an administrator for the next ten years, moving between California and Nebraska. At the same time, he also served as adjunct faculty and as a history teacher for Grand Canyon University, California State University Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College.
Wanting to be closer to family in the Vegas area, Lake started looking for a job in the Clark County School District. He was hired to be the dean at Moapa Valley High School, a job which he is very excited about.
“I really enjoy specifically working with at risk and underserved youth and youth that are struggling,” Lake said. “In fact, I really love working with all kids. I want to see them be successful and avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that are out there. I want kids to know that they can be successful in life through education and that they have it within their power to acquire the skills they need to achieve their dreams.”
Lake likes to take a humorous approach to his job, while still enforcing the rules. When doing tardy sweeps at the school, he starts by playing the Darth Vader theme over the internet to give students a humorous heads-up while encouraging them to follow the rules and get to class on time.
“I want students to know that I care about them and will treat them with respect and dignity,” Lake said. “But I’m also going to hold them accountable for their actions.”
So far Lake has loved working at MVHS. Although he currently lives in Las Vegas, he eventually hopes to move to Moapa Valley
“I really love this school!” he said. “Compared to the environments I’ve worked in, this is a really great school with kids that are respectful. There is more school spirit here than I’ve ever seen before. I can’t believe the kids actually know their fight song and sing it! The community is tight-knit, the traditions are deep-seated, and school pride is off the charts. It’s great.”
Lake is looking forward to getting to know the students, parents, and other members of the community even better. He has established an open-door policy in his office, inviting both students and parents to drop by and meet with him whenever they need to.
“My door is always open and I’m here for parents as well as for students,” Lake said. “My purpose is to help kids succeed and achieve their goal of graduation as well as qualify for the career of their choice. I want them to achieve their dreams and I’m here to help them any way that I can.”