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Longtime Sulphur Springs superintendent to retire

Robert Nolet stepping down after 32 years as leader of district

Posted: June 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Retiring Sulphur Springs School District Superintendent Robert Nolet in his office on Friday. Signal photo by Dan Watson. Retiring Sulphur Springs School District Superintendent Robert Nolet in his office on Friday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.
Retiring Sulphur Springs School District Superintendent Robert Nolet in his office on Friday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.

For more than three decades, the Santa Clarita Valley’s Sulphur Springs School District has grown, changed and adapted under the watchful eye of Superintendent Robert Nolet.

But now Nolet is planning to step away from the district.

“I think after 43 years in education and 32 as the superintendent of this district, it’s probably time for me to turn the reins over to somebody else,” Nolet said Friday.

Dealing with changes

Over his tenure, Nolet has overseen a great deal of change in the district — including the opening of new schools and modernization of district buildings.

He and other district officials guided Sulphur Springs through some difficult financial times, including the recent economic downturn.

“I’m particularly happy that we’ve remained fiscally solvent all of these years,” he said with a laugh. “That’s probably why I’m still here.”

Nolet also said he was proud of how the district has worked to integrate technology into its classrooms.

“Technology has become an increasingly important instructional tool, and we have to remember there’s a whole world out there that’s changing and evolving,” Nolet said. “And we need to make sure that we, as educators, are responsive to those changes.”

That’s especially important, he said, because students spend more time outside of the classroom than in.
“We can’t ignore everything else they’re interacting with and just assume that we can remain static,” Nolet said. “We’ve got to continue to evolve and change.”

Taught together

Sulphur Springs board President Kerry Clegg, who was first elected to the board in 1989, praised the way Nolet has led the district over the years.

“There are hardly words I can say about how great Bob’s leadership has been,” Clegg said. “He’s going to be very difficult to replace.”

“His strong business sense has been what has really stood out,” Clegg said. “When districts don’t have to worry about where the next dollar is to pay their teachers, then they can focus on what the teachers need to do to best serve the students.”

Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger described Nolet as the “dean” of the superintendents of the Santa Clarita Valley because of his longevity.

“One of the keys to the success of a school district is longevity of the leadership,” Winger said. “And Bob has proven that over and over again.”

Winger worked in the Sulphur Springs district when Nolet was superintendent.

Particularly impressive, Winger said, is the way Nolet has guided the use and implementation of technology in Sulphur Springs district schools.

“We were around when there was no technology,” Winger joked. “And Bob saw what the power of that was, and he’s been a leader in getting schools equipped for the 21st century — there’s no doubt about that.”

Family feeling

The Newhall superintendent also praised Nolet for maintaining a tightly knit culture in the Sulphur Springs district.
“Districts have cultures, and Bob has both built and maintained a very unique culture in Sulphur Springs,” Winger said. “It’s always been a very tight culture that’s reflective of his leadership style.”

Clegg said that he’ll be looking for a superintendent who can continue that culture.

“We want a superintendent to continue the type of family feeling we’ve always had in our district,” he said.

Nolet said he, too, appreciates the tight-knit culture of Sulphur Springs, but he said it’s not solely a result of his work.

“I am proud that, over my tenure in this district, we’ve been able to grow that, and it’s a significant part of the culture,” he said. “We all recognize that we are all dependent on one another to have success — very much like a family.”

Engaged parents are a major part of creating that culture, Nolet said.

“My philosophy has always been to avoid becoming static — avoid accepting the routine,” he said. “We constantly have to look at ways and methods to make sure that we’re engaging our students and maintaining positive contacts with our parents.”


Nolet will continue to work through 2014 before retiring.

Clegg said the district is in the process of search ing for a new superintendent.

As for what awaits the long-time educator in retirement, Nolet joked that he has some lawns to mow and said he has a granddaughter he’d like to see more often.

“I will immerse myself in some things I enjoy: reading, woodworking or school-related things,” he said. “But I’m going to do it slowly and have a different pace.”
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