We hope you will enjoy our series “The Tuesday Conversation.” Each week, we feature discussions with business leaders in Nevada working in different ways to transform the state’s education system.

If you know someone you think should be highlighted here, please contact Dave Berns at dave@nevadasucceeds.org or (702) 510-4420.


05/23/2017, Traci Davis

As we work with Nevada’s school districts and educators in the embrace of the collaborative classroom experience, in this week’s Tuesday Conversation we ask Washoe County School District Superintendent Traci Davis a single question: What does collaboration mean to you?

Davis: “It means so many things when you think about collaboration. It happens outside of the classroom, when you get into the classroom, when teachers do work and look at best practices and look at analyzing things and how well you may have taught something and how the kids did. So, you share those practices because maybe I’m new or maybe using something that’s old and you’re new.

I think the richness of collaboration is how we learn from each other when we teach and learn to move kids forward. I think when you get into the classroom piece around collaboration I as a teacher would always collaborate with my kids…

Read the full conversation.




05/16/2017, Lisa Burkhead

Principal Lisa Burkhead is coming to the end of her first year leading Foothill High School, which sits across Interstate 515 from Nevada State College. An award-winning principal at Fertitta Middle School, where she successfully transformed the academic experience, Burkhead has focused much of her work on overhauling the academic climate and culture at Foothill. In this week’s Tuesday Conversation we speak with Burkhead about those changes.

Q: What does it mean to transform a school’s climate and culture?

Burkhead: It takes time, and I think it takes building trust and relationships with all of your stakeholders. It certainly was not easy at the beginning of the year. There was definitely pushback, but I think it improved as the school year progressed and students got to know me, and I was visible. I think the main thing is if you explain the “why” you’re doing things, people understand, and if they know that it’s coming from a good place in your heart and it’s in their best interest, while they may not agree they do accept it. I think that we’ve come a long way from the beginning of the school year.

Read the full conversation.


05/09/2017, Ray Specht

Toyota Financial Savings Bank Vice Chairman Ray Specht is based in Henderson and has worked with the Clark County School District to develop a bilingual financial literacy curriculum for students within the nation’s fifth-largest school district. It has since spread nationally.

Q: What prompted you to develop the program?

Specht: We just went through not just a severe recession; we went through basically a depression, economically. We were the foreclosure capital for awhile, unfortunately, and a lot of families suffered through that, and it makes me wonder, “Had they had those financial literacy skills how many would not have ended up in the situation they were in?”

We owe it to every child to give them the financial skill set, so they can have a successful career; so they can be financially successful; so they can plan for their retirement, their family’s future.

Read the full conversation.




05/02/2017, Anna Aberle

Anna Aberle was an elementary school student when she arrived in the United States 20 years ago. Adopted by a Las Vegas family from an uncertain future in Russia, Aberle attended school in the Clark County School District.

Now married and the mother of a 7-year-old boy, Aberle and her business partner operate a web design firm, Aberlewest Design & Marketing.

In this week’s Tuesday Conversation, the Palo Verde High School graduate who later earned a college degree recalls how dedicated teachers played a significant role in her becoming a successful citizen in what had been a foreign country.

Read the full conversation.


04/11/2017, Linda Alterwitz-Mizrahi

For 12 years, Walker Furniture has sponsored a program that promotes reading among Clark County School District students, particularly those in some of the region’s most economically challenged neighborhoods.

Walker co-owners Linda Alterwitz-Mizrahi and her brother, Larry Alterwitz, have provided numerous schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, with furniture and bookshelves to create spaces that encourage youngsters to sit, think and read.

Read the full conversation.


Owen Carver, 03/21/2017

Las Vegas businessman Owen Carver lost his 2016 bid for the Nevada Legislature, but the owner of All in Web Pro and Café do Paraiso remains committed to helping support the transformation of Nevada’s K-12 system.

For this week’s Tuesday Conversation, we speak with Carver about some of the opportunities that exist for our state’s school districts.

Click here for the full conversation.


03/14/2017, Nicolette Smith

“If you want to shift the culture at your site it starts with the principal and the leadership team, which includes teachers.” – Nicolette Smith

Nicolette Smith is an advocate for National Board Certification, a high-level teacher-training program that provides educators with the foundational and procedural tools to think systematically about their classroom practices, drawing upon personal experience to boost student success.

Labeled the “gold standard for the teaching profession,” the certification process is designed to provide teachers with a stronger knowledge and appreciation for:

Click here for the full conversation.


Spencer Stewart, 03/07/2017

Western Governors University Nevada Chancellor Spencer Stewart argues that technology is changing the most basic assumptions of classroom learning, as it transforms the group learning experience into one that is individualized.

Stewart, a former vice president of Nevada State College, is a proponent of Assembly Bill 110, which was introduced in the Assembly Education Committee on Feb. 7.

The measure focuses on competency-based learning (CBL) and would permit students to receive credit for a course of study without attending the classes if students are determined to be competent within that subject matter.

The WGU model is a competency-based model that’s dependent upon subject mastery, and Stewart argues that CBL and tech are a perfect match for how students learn in today’s world.

Stewart began our discussion citing some of the fundamental questions that underlie competency-based learning.

Read the full conversation here.

02/21/2017, Mary Jean Gallagher

Mary Jean Gallagher is a former Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Student Achievement Officer for The Ministry of Education in Ontario, Canada, who travels much of the world explaining the transformational nature of shared instructional experiences in K-12 classrooms.

Gallagher appeared last week at a Nevada Succeeds’ Legislative Academy in Carson City to speak with state lawmakers and educators, where she discussed the power of collaborative teaching initiatives that find educators throughout school buildings working together and employing best practices to develop Professional Learning Communities. We spoke with her about the work she’s embraced.

Click here for the full conversation.

Adnan Khawaja, 02/07/2017

He was a shy young man who knew little about the social and cultural norms of life in the United States; just 15 years old, Adnan Khawaja and his family moved to Las Vegas 23 years ago from Pakistan.

Las Vegas was a natural destination for a family in pursuit of The American Dream. His mother’s extended Filipino-American relatives had lived here since the 1970s. So when young Adnan arrived there was some familiarity to be found, but a new language and culture, particularly one as high-powered as the Las Vegas version, all provided an existential shock to a teen-age boy trying to find his way in a foreign country.

Twenty-three years later, Khawaja, owner of Sky Vista Consulting, a Henderson marketing firm, has a perspective on the experience of immigrant students within our public education system, a perspective that’s particularly relevant in today’s diverse Clark County School District.

Read the full conversation here.

Allison Smith, 01/31/2017

The question hung there for Dr. Allison Smith. Why don’t young students of color go into the teaching profession? The career choice may get ripped in some quarters, but it’s important, professionally challenging work just like any other profession.

And yet, when you look at the national, state and local demographics for students enrolled in college education programs, a disproportionate percentage (when measured against national census figures), tend to be white.

Read the full conversation here.

Pat Hickey, 01/24/2017

“You can’t craft a solution to a major challenge with one ideology ramming through a solution without the participation of the other.”

Pat Hickey has worked as a reporter, newspaper columnist, editor and college journalism instructor. A fourth-generation Nevadan whose roots stretch back to the 1870s in the Carson Valley-Lake Tahoe region, he has served in the Nevada State Assembly and on the State Board of Education.

Hickey was recently hired as Executive Director of the Charter School Association of Nevada, and in this week’s Tuesday Conversation we talk about what he views as the underlying socioeconomic challenges that Nevadans must confront to improve the state’s entire education system.

Read the full conversation here.

Rick Crawford, 01/10/2017

Rick Crawford arrived in Southern Nevada in the 1970’s as a regional manager for the 7-11 convenience store chain, and in 1978 the Southern California native saw economic opportunity in the growing region and opened his first Green Valley Grocery store at the corner of Sunset Avenue and Green Valley Parkway. Today, he has more than 400 employees working in 53 stores.

Crawford and his wife, Jeri, are involved in a wide range of projects to help with the educational and cultural growth of Southern Nevadans. The Crawfords served as members of the founding board of The Smith Center for The Performing Arts, and for nearly a decade Jeri Crawford has been president of the Las Vegas Philharmonic.

Crawford estimates that about a third of his workforce was educated in Clark County, most of them by the Clark County School District, and we spoke with him earlier this week about business and what it takes to educate employees in today’s ever-changing workplace.

Click here for the full conversation.

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 Dwayne Miller, 01/03/2017

Dwayne Miller embraces the power of questioning, so much so that it defines every aspect of his work.  He’s Chairman of the Board of JBA Consulting Engineers, a global engineering firm which has designed key operational aspects of multiple Las Vegas Strip megaresorts – from acoustics to telecommunications, plumbing and surveillance.

A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute with a BSEE in Electrical Engineering, Miller says his future was apparently set in stone when he just five years old. Young Dwayne’s father noticed that his son had buttoned his pajama top all the way up to his collar. His dad told him he did not have to button that fifth button.

“Then, why does the shirt have one?” the youngster asked quite sincerely.

Click here for the full conversation.

Kim Metcalf, 12/13/2016

UNLV College of Education Dean Kim Metcalf’s writing and research has focused on the success and failure of school voucher programs and the creative push to address the needs of the nation’s school districts. Metcalf accepted the College of Education’s top job in 2013 after having served as the Director of Institutional Research & Planning at the University of West Georgia.

We spoke earlier today with Dean Metcalf about the future of classroom education.

Click here for the full conversation.

Tech Impact, 12/6/2016

Cami Lewis and Meishach Moore sit in The Historic Westside School in West Las Vegas, where they discuss the role of the Las Vegas office of the Philadelphia-based non-profit, Tech Impact in providing workforce training for men and women who lack the skills to work in today’s office setting.

With significant support from Barclays Bank, Tech Impact’s CXWorks trains young adults to become proficient in the use of office technology that boosts their employability.

Read the rest of the conversation here.

John Delikanakis, 11/29/2016

John Delikanakis is a commercial litigator and a former associate general counsel for a Fortune 500 company. The partner in the Las Vegas offices of Snell & Wilmer has played an active role in the transformation of the state’s public education system and economic development efforts, serving as Vice Chairman of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.

A former New York stockbroker, Delikanakis speaks of meeting the educational needs of Nevada’s students, the needs of current and future employers, and building a workforce development pipeline that creates a more prosperous state for all Nevadans.

Read the whole conversation here.

Owen Carver – 11/15/2016

The founder of AllinWebPro.com and Café do Paraiso LLC, Owen Carver speaks of his recent bid for the Nevada Legislature and continuing to play an active role in the development of public policy throughout the region and state, drawing upon his concerns about the ability of our K-12 and higher education systems to meet the needs of the changing economy. We spoke with Carver, a member of the Nevada Succeeds’ Board of Directors, earlier today about lessons learned along the campaign trail.

Read the conversation here.

Bob Anderson – 11/8/16

Bob Anderson is a partner with the Las Vegas office of the Phoenix-based law firm Snell & Wilmer and a member of the Nevada Succeeds’ Board of Directors. The University of Florida Law School graduate earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and routinely works with businesses seeking to move to the Las Vegas Valley. In today’s conversation, he discusses how the quality of the region’s K-12 system invariably impacts discussions with executives considering a move to Southern Nevada.

Read the whole conversation.

@SWLawNews Partner Bob Anderson touts benefits of K-12 investment in Nevada #ccsd #wcsd #nvleg

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Valerie Glenn – 10/25/16

Valerie Glenn, Chief Executive Officer of The Glenn Group Advertising & Public Relations Firm and member of the Nevada Succeeds Board of Directors, draws connections between education and economic growth. She discusses how the current state of our system impacts hers and other local businesses.

Read her interview here.

Wade Simpson – 10/18/2016

Wade Simpson, principal at Simpson Coulter Studios, has been involved in the design of dozens of schools in Clark County. In today’s conversation, he discusses the importance of collaboration in this process, and relates it to the reorganization of CCSD.

Click hear to read today’s conversation.

Denette Suddeth – 10/11/16

Denette Suddeth, Wells Fargo Senior Vice President and Loan Team Leader for Southern Nevada and member of Nevada Succeeds’ Board of Directors, discusses the importance of financial literacy and the links between a good education and economic security.

Read the whole conversation here.

Michael Newman – 10/04/2016

Michael Newman, Southwest Regional Managing Director for the global commercial real estate firm CBRE and member of the Nevada Succeeds’ Board of Directors, discusses the positive experiences his family has had with Clark County School District, the challenges CCSD faces and the direct connection between education and economic growth.

Click here to read the conversation.