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Two schools get new principal

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By Don Pace

Martha Johnsen has been named the new principal at Sierra Vista and Los Niños elementary schools.

She will be leaving her post as a West Las Vegas principal to take the job on the other side of the river with the Las Vegas City Schools.

Johnsen is currently the principal at the Family Partnership School, West’s alternative school, and Don Cecilio Elementary. She has been with West for a decade.

“I’m happy where I am. I really love my two schools, but I think I was drawn to the fact that Los Niños is where I started teaching. Truly it’s been a bittersweet kind of thing — I’m very, very excited, but I hate to leave my wonderful staff and the kids at West,” Johnsen said.

Johnsen said during her tenure at West she has overseen kindergarten through 12th grade.

“That’s a huge stretch, so the opportunity to focus on kindergarten through fifth grade is very exciting,” Johnsen said. “It’s back to my old stomping grounds.”

Johnsen started teaching at Los Niños when the dual language program first began and remained there for three years. She later became the administrator of the bilingual program, and after a time, she was transferred to work in the state and federal bilingual programs.

“I got tired of sitting in an office and never seeing students and moved to the Family Partnership,” Johnsen said. 

Johnsen didn’t comment on the fact that over the years the West school board had mulled over a new building for the Family Partnership. The partnership’s elementary school was also closed a number of years ago.

“I will miss everyone a great deal, but I keep remembering I’m in the same town. I’m not leaving the country,” Johnsen said with a laugh.

Besides her duties as an administrator, Johnsen entertained Las Vegans for many years as co-host with Dennis Mitchell on KFUN’s “Over The Back Fence.” More recently, she has hosted the station’s morning show.      

The East positions became vacant when Sierra’s principal, Manuel Lucero, was promoted to become principal of Memorial Middle School and Floyd Chavez retired as Los Niños’ principal.