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Q&A with new Floyd Elementary Principal Von Sheppard

It would be safe to say that newly hired Floyd Elementary School Principal Von Sheppard is the only administrator at the Nye County School District who in 1985, set a University of Nebraska long jump record at 25.6 feet.

Additionally, it would appear that no other NCSD administrator reeled in a 46-yard touchdown pass during a 1986 NCAA Division I football game between Nebraska and Florida State — the first night game at the school, as opponent Deion Sanders looked on.

Nebraska won the game 34-17 and went on to claim the 1986 Sugar Bowl against LSU.

Though his playing days are over, Sheppard is now looking to score points inside the classroom.

He was recruited from Colorado by Superintendent Dale Norton this year to lead the school to academic victory. He was chosen from a pool of many other candidates.

Sheppard joined the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) more than six years ago, where he oversaw 20 elementary schools.

Prior to his work in Colorado, he was a high school principal in St. Paul, Minnesota from 2001 to 2005.

He is credited by his peers for helping to turn around a school plagued with drugs, violence and teacher turnover.

A few years after his arrival, teacher turnover and student absenteeism rates slowed while test scores steadily rose.

During a very busy week, Sheppard found time to talk on Wednesday about himself and impart his vision for staff and students alike at the school.

You recently arrived here from Colorado. How are you adjusting to the community?

It’s been quite an adjustment. It’s a smaller town, but I’ve lived in smaller towns before. Just being in this community, I’ve noticed that it’s a very welcoming community and I have nothing but good things to say about the Town of Pahrump and the residents here. The staff here at Floyd Elementary, Superintendent Dale Norton and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Friel have been very gracious and I just feel honored being here.

Q: What is your background and where are you originally from and how did you learn about the Town of Pahrump?

A: I grew up in Minnesota and Texas. I was born and raised in Minnesota and my family is originally from Texas where I spent some time there going to school but most of my years of education were in Minnesota. I learned about Pahrump when I was doing an online search and putting my resume out to a number of schools. When Pahrump called me, I did the interview, I came out here and fell in love with this place.

Q: You appear to be adjusted to your new position, but how are you handling the climate compared to that of Colorado?

A: One of the reasons why I needed to move was due to the altitude because it was affecting my breathing. When I first arrived there I started having problems. I needed to go somewhere where the elevation was lower. It’s close to 2,700 here and I could really tell the difference when I came here. It’s a much better climate for me.

Q: Why did you choose education as a career?

A: My mother was a school teacher and she also worked at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. I love kids and I’m passionate about making the impossible possible as it relates to particular kids who may not have all of the resources that they need, whether it be at the school level or home level.

I want to make sure that when kids come to school, that they are safe, and they have the best highly qualified teachers that they can have not only to meet the standards, but to exceed the standard.

Q: As a veteran educator, how much have students’ sensibilities towards education changed when you were attending school?

A: It’s different now because we have all of the leaps and bounds that technology has taken kids. No longer are kids reading books as much because they can go online and get information at their fingertips. Teachers have also had to change with the times.

Kids are being challenged by these video games on an everyday basis. Teachers are going to have to find within the way they teach, to match those challenges that some of these video games and other outlets the kids have. If they are not challenged, kids tend to get bored.

Q: Following your college years, you tried out for an NFL team. How’d that work out?

A: I blew out both of my knees when I was playing at Nebraska. I blew out my left knee when I was a junior and I blew out my right knew as a senior.

The Minnesota Vikings ended up picking me up and I was with them for about four or five months. They released me and I went overseas and played for two years in England.

I played in the UK for the Walsall Titans and Scunthorpe Steelers in 1989 and 1990. It wasn’t soccer or rugby.

Q: Can you talk about your family life?

A: I have two boys. One lives in Miami and my other son is in Indianapolis. I have a fiancé, Sophia who is preparing to move here fairly soon.

We are really looking forward to settling down in this wonderful town.

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