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New superintendent joins Hagerman schools

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An educator with 32 years of experience in the field has become the new superintendent for Hagerman Municipal Schools.

Curtis Clough has joined Hagerman Municipal Schools as its chief administrator. (Submitted Photo)

Curtis Clough was chosen for the position by the school board on July 6 and officially began his duties July 12.

“They were looking a lot at career and tech ed,” Clough said, “I’ve got a lot of experience in career and tech ed. I have been involved with that for 21 years.”

Clough most recently served as an associate superintendent of Silver Consolidated Schools in Silver City, New Mexico, but a prior position in his career was as the State of Alaska director for career and technical education for two years. Other positions he held also dealt with career and technical education.

Originally from Ohio, he worked there for 18 years as a teacher; football, baseball and basketball coach; principal; and superintendent. He also worked in Arizona, both as a high school principal and as an associate dean at a community college. About four years ago, after his work in Alaska, which included working as a principal, he moved to New Mexico.

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In addition to working with Silver Consolidated Schools, he served as the principal of Crownpoint High School in Gallup for a year.

He said his fondness for the Chaves County area and its people led him to the Hagerman position. He also called it fortuitous that his wife, Elizabeth, recently was offered a position as a middle school English Language Arts teacher in Artesia. Their children are 30 and 28. The Cloughs also have two grandchildren.

Clough said so far he has been concentrating on staffing and employee orientations, professional development training, and adjustments to schools’ re-entry plans, given the state guidelines just announced Monday.

The district’s regular school year begins Aug. 9, with the high school extended year starting Monday. The district has about 460 elementary, middle and high school students.

He said the district’s priorities in coming months include a review of academic programming to ensure area needs are met, professional development for teachers and making connections with the community.

“We know there are going to be some areas we need to address because of poverty levels and that sort of thing,” he said. “We are going to have to look at how the community and school can work together to provide for the best interest of students and their parents.”

In terms of aligning the academic program with student needs, he said that the district wants to offer more agricultural education. He said he is planning to apply for a federal “learning gap” grant to focus on connecting agricultural sciences with language arts and math for fifth to eighth grade students.

“We are trying to connect as much as we can to showing how ag and ag science can connect with the other subject areas,” Clough said.

Jeniffer Salazar, secretary of the Hagerman Municipal Schools Board of Education, said that she feels Clough’s strength in technical education will be important to students.

“Our school is super-small, so we have limited elective classes,” she said. “I think his ideas will help bring some new opportunities for our students.”

The public will have two chances to meet Clough in coming days.

At 5 p.m. Thursday, he and other school administrators will meet with the public at the Hagerman Community Center, 501 E. Argyle St.

On Aug. 4 at 5 p.m., a community forum will be held to discuss what the district will do with the $834,000 it has been awarded through the state from the federal American Rescue Plan funding. The location for that meeting has not yet been determined.

“We are required to have a community forum or survey and we will probably do both,” Clough said, “to get feedback about what the community wants the funds to be used for, facilities, educational programming, increased staffing, those sorts of things.”

Ricky Williams, the district’s former superintendent who was named Administrator of the Year by the New Mexico Superintendents Association in 2018, resigned for personal reasons in June, according to Salazar.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.