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J.G. Johnson Elementary welcomes new leader

Students and faculty at J.G. Johnson Elementary School will see a new face behind the principal’s desk beginning on Monday.

Charles O’Connor was hired this year as J.G. Johnson’s new principal. O’Connor, originally from Chicago, has served in education for 16 years.

He also has both administrative and teaching experience and is working on his Doctorate in Educational Administration.

O’Connor succeeds Principal Jeff Skelton, who is now principal at Floyd Elementary .

This week, O’Connor spoke about his career and what brought him and his wife to the Pahrump Valley.

Where are you from?

“I originally grew up in Chicago and went all the way through schools there. I went to Loyola University and I’m from a large family with seven children. My parents were very hard working and sent us to good Catholic schools. After I completed my education, I took a job as a teacher in Colorado where I taught school there for 17 years. I earned my principal’s license after that and I’ve been an administrator for the last four years. There were no principal jobs in Colorado so I opted to try for Nevada and have been successful.”

How are you adjusting to the community?

“I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks and I love the community and the people of Pahrump have been so nice to me. I had to stay at the Pahrump Nugget for two weeks and they’re the nicest people I’ve ever met. Everywhere I have gone to get my electric or water turned on, people have just been so nice and teachers here are awesome. I’m real proud to be part of this community.”

With that said, how are you adjusting to the climate here?

“I’m staying in air conditioned buildings. It does get into the 90’s in Colorado. I’m not used to the terrible, terrible heat, but so far, it hasn’t been so bad.”

Why did you choose education as a career?

“When I was in third grade, my teacher had broken her leg one day and she asked two of us to teach school for her. She asked me to teach reading and writing and by the end of the day, I thought to myself that this would be a great career. I was 8 or 9 years-old and ever since then, I wanted to be a teacher and I achieved my goal.”

In your mind, how much have students’ sensibilities toward education changed since you were attending school?

“When I was going to school, children really did things without asking or questioning. Now I find children question more and it certainly creates a more interesting group, but they probably don’t listen as well when you or I did. I’m used to that after all these years. I’m not new to the trends today and I love children, so it doesn’t matter.”

Would you care to talk about your family life and what you do in your leisure time?

“Mrs. O’Connor and I have been married 25 years. She’s from Ireland and she’s a registered nurse. Our daughter is 22 years old and she’s an Irish dancer and she also attends college. As far as hobbies, I climbed the 50 highest peaks in Colorado, so I’m looking forward to some of the climbing around here. I passed through some beautiful mountains when I came in from Las Vegas and it looks very interesting. I’m also a ranked chess player.”

I understand you once played racquetball with someone of international prominence. Who was that?

“I played against President Obama. I grew up in Chicago, and he’s from the south side. He lived in a neighborhood called Hyde Park, and I was at the YMCA one day with one of my buddies and we played partners against him. Obama was a senator back then and we beat them two games out of three.”

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