Caldwell County Elementary School opened its doors for the school year with a new principal, Malissa Thomas. She has worked within the school system going on 18 years.
"I started my career here at Caldwell at the high school in 2002, I worked for two and a half years," Thomas said. "Then I went to Lyon County for six years. So this is starting my tenth year back at Caldwell."
She began teaching Special Education at CCHS and at Lyon County. She also taught severe disabilities. She held a position at Tiger Academy, Caldwell's Alternative School, and coached basketball for 17 years.
After finishing her degree in administration a year ago, Thomas decided to stop coaching and look for administrative positions.
"This one came up and I felt like it'd be a great opportunity to serve," Thomas said. "It worked out exactly how God had planned."
This leadership role is something that she doesn't take lightly, and she said her transition to principal has gone smoothly.
"I think a lot of the lessons I learned in coaching and teaching at the alternative school and my special education background has served me well so far," Thomas said. "It's been an exciting transition for me. It's been a breath of fresh air, really."
She said the atmosphere at CCES has been really incredible.
"We've got an awesome group of teachers to work with. They work very hard," Thomas said. "It's been fun to be around this age group of kids."
"The kids are eager, they're ready to learn," she continued. "I love being in the classrooms. I love seeing what our teachers are doing."
She got into this line of work because she wanted to make a difference.
To her, the best place to do that is in education because there are so many opportunities to serve and make a positive difference in other people's lives.
"Your teachers are your front line, you know, they're around kids every day," Thomas said. "They're able to be that role model or just be a positive influence."
Now as a principal, she feels like she gets to support the staff and the kids.
"We've got some new things off the ground," Thomas said. "Any time a new administration comes in there's an adjustment period for everyone."
The staff at CCES has taken ahold of these changes and ran with them.
"They're the real MVPs because we can have lots of great ideas, but they're just ideas," she said. "Unless people are willing to really buy into what we're trying to do, it couldn't work."
She said they couldn't have had a better start to the year, and that things have been going well for the students, too.
"It's been fun for me just to spend time with kids and get to know them and figure out what will motivate them to do well, what will motivate them to learn," Thomas said.
The school's number one focus is on student achievement and whatever it can do to help and motivate them to give their best.
"We want to know our kids well," Thomas shared. "Our students have all different types of needs; we want to be able to help meet those needs so that we can instruct them better."
She hopes she can make a positive impact as the school year progresses.
"We want to be able to make changes that will improve what we're doing, and we want to make it better every day for our kids," Thomas said.
She said she is thankful for new transition.
"I love Caldwell County and I love our school system," Thomas said. "I have a lot of years invested. My kids are here and I'm thankful for the opportunity to lead this school."