Lassen Union High School District has new leadership with the arrival of new Superintendent/ Principal Morgan Nugent.
With his new role, Nugent is excited to be back in the country and is ready to serve the school and its students. Prior to his arrival in Susanville, he served as the principal of Osan American Middle High School in South Korea during a 10-year stint working for the Department of Defense Education Activities. He also served as principal at the Marine Corps Station in Iwakuni, Japan, and as a principal at Osan Air Base in Songtan, South Korea.
Now, the Bridgeport, California, native is bringing his skills to the Lassen Union High School District.
Inspired by teachers who assisted him during his own schooling, and driven by teachers who missed their mark, Nugent became a teacher.
“I wanted to be a better teacher than what I had in a couple classes, but I also had a couple teachers who have been such a big impact on my life,” said Nugent. “They were there to help guide and help really provide some purpose, and I wanted to be like them.”
He is a former social studies teacher and coach and his first job was teaching at a small school in Missouri, and “it was one of the most rewarding places,” Nugent said.
It was at that school where he switched his teaching style completely in order to better engage his students in the material.
“I was wondering why my kids didn’t want to come to class, and I realized I was teaching like my teachers taught, because that’s how I was trained. I ended up having the chance to sort of think outside the box,” Nugent said.
Around that time his great- grandma was nearing 100 years old and he was starting to record her history. He took that method of research and applied it to his students; taking them to surrounding nursing homes and having students record the histories of its patrons.
“All of a sudden, history became alive,” Nugent recounted, detailing how some of his troubled students became more interested in history when given the chance to record a bootlegger’s story.
Now, he’s bringing his passion for education back to Susanville and has some goals to better the district and best serve its students.
“The most important thing that I see in my role is to ensure that our kids have an opportunity to have choices when they leave here,” Nugent said. “Whether they end up going right into the workforce, they might be going into the military, they might be going to Lassen Community College or another two-year program, or off to a four-year university.”
He also has goals to not only prepare students for college, but for jobs as well.
“We always talk about making sure we’re college and career ready, unfortunately often, schools focus way too much on just the college piece. We need to make sure our kids have the tools and resources to be successful in any walk of life that they choose,” he continued. “My desire is to ensure that we have our kids be able to step out and be productive citizens here in Susanville or within Lassen County.”
Although there is a decreasing student population, Nugent noted the district should help prepare students for all options.
“We have to find ways to keep our kids, or at least provide job opportunities for our students, here in Lassen. If they are having to move away to get jobs, then I’m not doing my job as the superintendent here making sure there are opportunities for our kids to step in, either working with the state department, forestry, through the prison, through nursing and the hospital, or even as future educators.”
Some challenges he is ready to face is gaining a better understanding of Susanville and figuring out what the job market of tomorrow consists of to better prepare local students.
Nugent was raised in Bridgeport, California, which has population of less than 600 residents and has worked in large cities in South Korea. Now, he’s thrilled to be back in the Sierras.
“I’m really excited to get back home,” he said.
With his recent move to the county he is looking forward to hiking local trails and “getting in the back country.”
With the start of the new school year coming up quickly, the office is a little busy, but he welcomes parents and students to stop by and meet him.
“My door is always open and I look forward to getting to know our community better and really understanding what the needs are here for our kids,” Nugent said.