P. Kay Carl ‘59
The birth and growth of a county school district might not sound like the stuff of books – unless that school district is the nation’s fifth largest and includes Las Vegas, “the entertainment capital of the world.” P. Kay Carl ’59 thought it was a story worth telling, and she would know. For 30 years, Carl worked in the Clark County School District in Nevada and presided over its phenomenal growth.
“I really felt we needed to preserve that history,” she says. “So I hooked up with colleagues who had gathered mementos for the county’s 50th anniversary, and we put it all together.”
The result is Education in the Neon Shadow: The First 50 Years of the Clark County School District published in May 2009 and co-authored by Carl, Rick Watson, John R. Gallifent and Jonathan Peters. In her career as guidance counselor, principal and, eventually, assistant superintendent, Carl wrestled with the challenge of accommodating a student population that typically grew 12-15 thousand every year. She still remembers one year when they opened 18 new schools.
Carl says her liberal arts education at Wittenberg provided her with the fundamental skills necessary for success in every position she held and, perhaps most importantly, encouraged the development of her curiosity. She vividly recalls how her professors were always pushing her to ask questions.
“I am so grateful for my time at Wittenberg and for all it provided me – from the professors, to my sorority, to the many different opportunities I had there,” she says.
A native Ohioan, Carl made her way to Las Vegas years ago because “they were hiring, and I was ready for a change.” From those first days as a counselor at the nation’s only accredited night school and throughout her career, she made quite a mark on the lives of thousands of children. In 2001, the district honored her by naming the Kay Carl Elementary School after her, an experience she calls “humbling and a bit scary.”
Nine years after retiring, she continues to be involved in the education of young people of all ages – from college students to the children at Carl Elementary.
“I come from a family of educators and education is what I’ll be doing all my life,” she says. “It’s in my blood.”