TONOPAH, Nev. - "Even though this is my 31st year in education and 23rd as an administrator, I'm as excited as I was my first year," Gary Flood says as he prepares for his new position as pre-school through eight grade principal at Tonopah in the Nye County Nevada School District.
When he realized his position in the Ocean Beach District was being down-sized for the 2008-09 school term, Flood made a difficult decision. "My first preference would have been to stay on the Peninsula after 17 wonderful years here, but I knew I wanted to be a grade school principal in a small, rural district and when the job at Tonopah was offered to me, I accepted it and count it as a blessing."
Flood had received offers to be an administrator closer to home, but chose Tonopah because of its size and the opportunities it afforded him. "I have a wonderful staff here. We had four openings and within two days of my arrival we had five teachers volunteer to come in to help with the interview process. We've filled three openings already," Flood explains. "I also will be middle school activities and athletic director and I think that will be a blast."
Tonopah is located 207 miles north of Las Vegan and 256 miles south of Reno in high desert country. The elevation is 6,030, well above the mile high mark. "The first time it rained here I felt right at home," Flood laughs. "The lightening that came with it was quite a show, though." Another aspect of his job is that he will be in charge of a one-room school 140 miles to the northeast, but still in the district. "I plan on seeing the lead teacher and staff at least once a quarter. That will be an interesting part of my new job."
Flood's wife, Cindy, and daughter, Brooke, will remain on the Flood Farm south of Ocean Park. "My home on the Peninsula will be the Flood Farm and when I retire in five years or so, Lord willing, I will move back permanently," he says. "I plan on coming home for all the major holidays and a few times on three-day weekends."
He has already made full use of telephone and computer camera connections to communicate with his family. "It seems like I have actually talked with Cindy and Brooke more the last few days than when I was at home." Besides Brooke, the Floods have sons Shawn in the Air Force and Nate in Ocean Park.
"While I'm excited to begin my work here in Tonopah, I want to express my love for the people of the Peninsula. I was able to work with a great staff of educators; I thoroughly enjoyed the students and parents and I especially loved my time as activities director," Flood praises. "Some of the high points of my time on the Peninsula included being able to hire Ilwaco graduates as educators and being able to teach and work with students of former students."
Flood had one concern about the move. "This is the first time I have ever lived by myself. Growing up I was with my parents, at college I had roommates, and then I married Cindy, but I've already found a church family at Tonopah First Baptist and I'm sure I'll be very involved with my school family." Flood's hobbies include exercising and playing the left-handed acoustic guitar. "I'm also going to be involved with high school sports and activities as a supervisor."
Flood was born in the Anaheim, Calif., area and graduated from nearby Magnolia High School in 1969. He attended University of Redlands in California and earned his bachelor of arts degree from Southern Oregon University in 1973. He married Cindy in 1972 while both attended SOU. He took a language arts teaching position in 1974 at Central Point in Oregon and also taught in Glendale and Rosburg for a total of eight years.
In 1982 Flood earned his master's degree and administrative credentials. He was K-8 principal in Oakland, Ore., for five years. In 1991 he became assistant principal at Ilwaco Middle and High School when education funding in Oregon became questionable. After two years in that role he was principal at Hilltop for four years, then was principal in Long Beach for four more. He then became high school assistant principal and activities and athletic director for two years, went back to being principal at Hilltop and Long Beach schools for four more years and was assistant high school and middle school principal last year, ironically the position he was first hired for in 1991.
"My philosophy of education has always been to teach the whole child. Basic skills are necessary and character counts, too. As an administrator my goal is to always stay positive even when there are the inevitable ups and downs. I want to be a team builder, to empower my staff to be the best teachers they can be, and I want them to get a buy-in on whatever is best for our students."
Flood relates, "I think our staff did great while I was in the Ocean Beach School District. Test scores improved because they were willing to go the extra mile time and again. I truly cared about the staff, the parents, and the kids I served. I feel I had a good run and now I am thankful to my Lord for the blessing of this new job."
While the man with the ready smile, the wearer of tennis shoes and ties, and the hard-working encourager for hundreds of students and adults alike will be getting a fresh start in Nevada this fall, Gary Flood will be missed by many on the Peninsula, a place he still calls home.