A Long Overdue Welcome to Mrs. Larnerd!


Grace Hwang and Sam Hwang

Through the challenges of the pandemic, Clark has endured. In the darkest of times, we have gained a bright leader. This is long overdue, but let us officially welcome Ms. Larnerd.

Hailing from an immigrant family, Ms. Kerry Larnerd came to the U.S. when she was 5. Because her father was a mechanic with an 8th grade education and her mother was initially a teacher’s aide, Ms. Larnerd and her two brothers had to put themselves through college; as she says, their other option was the military. Despite their humble beginnings, all three raised the money to put themselves through school. Although they had some scholarship money, most of the income came from their own work; indeed, Ms. Larnerd notes that she had to work two jobs in college to make ends meet.

Naturally, Ms. Larnerd became a teacher. She began her career as an english teacher at Silverado High School teacher and then moved to Vocational Technical Center, now Southeast Career Technical Academy (SECTA), and began her career as an administrator at the oldest CTA in Las Vegas. Afterwards, she moved back to Carson City to be closer to her family and served as a middle school principal in Douglas County. However, her desire to educate in Las Vegas eventually won out, and she persuaded her family to come back so she could serve as the principal of SECTA. Under her leadership, SECTA “went from the lowest performing CTA to one of the highest and had the highest number of magnet applications for the CTAs.” Her ingenuity and creative leadership definitely helped as she moved to establish dual-credit programs and other programs dedicated to giving students life skills. After her success at SECTA, her journey up the administrative chain of command seemed complete: she moved on to the district office and was in charge of “all career-tech education, AP, and dual-credit and avid for the school district.” 

However, after 3 years, she’d had enough. Like her brother before, Ms. Larnerd was not one to “sit behind a desk” and deal with the burden of administrative paperwork. In her own words, the work felt less meaningful than her time as a principal because she “wasn’t attached to kids at all.” She “missed being in a building.” At the same time Ms. Larnerd decided that the central office was not the right role for her, Clark was experiencing its own turmoil. Mr. Rael, Clark’s principal at the time, was facing great opposition from the student and teacher body. After Rael was forced to step down, Clark needed a new principal. And Ms. Larnerd was ready for the task. 

“I actually said to my husband, kind of half-jokingly, and just said that if Clark ever opens, I’m gonna apply.” Indeed, the position did open up, she applied, and “somehow survived the SOT process and all the interviews that went along with it and then landed here.” 

If Ms. Larnerd’s background says anything, it’s that she’s here to work, and her focus has always been centered around students. Few would pass up a high-level administrative position to sink back into the dredges of leading a single school. And yet, Ms. Larnerd did. Her presence at our school is not the result of some unwilling transfer but a voluntary step down from a place of power because she feels that she can make a difference at Clark. Her work ethic is clear from her history. Whatever needs to get done, will get done. And it will be done in the interest of students.

“We start with students first. And that’s how every sentence has to start. We start with students first and then see if we can make something work.” 

Her focus has certainly remained students first. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and the fact that we went into lockdown just 4 weeks after she arrived, Ms. Larnerd has developed a series of practices intended to better all aspects of the environment at Clark High School. First, as she puts it, she encourages the administration and the staff to keep their doors open. 

“The joke around here is that my door is too open,” she says. “I don’t shut my door. If my door is shut, then I’ve got a meeting going on online, or something very specific happening, but I really do believe in an open door policy.” In her own words, “you don’t come to work in a school to sit in that office [principal’s office]. And if you do, you probably shouldn’t be here working in a school.” 

Ms. Larnerd certainly embodies her own open door policy. From this writer’s own experiences, if you need to find Ms. Larnerd, check her office last. The best way to have a chat with her—which she encourages all students to do—is to find her during lunch in the lunch room or catch her in the hallways she regularly patrols. Additionally, she’s been active in attending numerous school activities: “I love going to sports, and I love going to the performing arts.”

To Ms. Larnerd, it is essential to be active in the school environment to get all students to care. All students need to be shown support. And that is one of the main goals of the Charger Strong Initiative. 

“Charger Strong grew out of this piece of we knew we were going to be eventually coming back in the building. And we knew that we had groups of students who had a lack of resources because they weren’t in school.” 

Charger Strong is about the building of a stronger Clark community. Because its goal is wide reaching, it is intended to address multiple challenges. First, Charger Strong is designed to promote student mental health. To accomplish this, the program actively promotes the wide resources available on Clark’s campus. 

“We built into our budget extra social workers beyond what the district gives us. We brought GEAR UP here, another person just as a help and a support.” 

Lastly, Charger Strong is designed to build stronger connections among the school body. 

“If, overall, we can get a sense that we have to take care of ourselves as well as taking care of those around us, then I think Charger Strong has been and has had a positive impact on that.” 

In her brief time at Clark, Ms. Larnerd has done a lot, more than could fit in any reasonable-length article. From the expansion of dual credit programs to the development of skills-based courses, such as Auto Shop, implementation of Hope Squad, and the development of the Charger Strong program, the changes made during her short time have been profound and far reaching. Although they range from academics to mental health and wellness, Ms. Larnerd says that she believes the changes are working together toward one common goal: 

“My goal for Clark is that every student the day after graduation can say, ‘I know what I’m doing.’ That day after graduation, we really need to do all we can to make sure students have a plan in place for their next step.” 


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