NEVADA COMMUNICATIONS EXECUTIVE PUSHES
FOR TRANSFORMATION OF STATE’S SCHOOLS
The Glenn Group is a 47+ year-old advertising and public relations firm with offices in Las Vegas and Reno. The company, through its then-DRGM Advertising arm, was involved in the marketing of such newly opened Strip giants as MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay. The company’s clients also have included businesses in health care, financial services, home building, insurance and retail.
Valerie Glenn, the company’s chief executive officer, described her business approach in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun: “We take a lot of time to really understand (the) consumer because we always want to make sure we are representing the consumer’s point of view. I really believe that it’s not so much about what someone is trying to sell. It has everything to do with what somebody wants to buy, and if you are selling something that nobody wants to buy then everybody is in trouble.”
Glenn is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in journalism. She is a member of the Nevada Succeeds Board of Directors and holds a deep interest in the transformation of Nevada’s K-12 and higher education systems. This week we talk with Glenn about her dedication to the ongoing transformation of Nevada’s public school and higher education systems.
Q: What motivates you to focus on this work?
Glenn: I have a general interest in making sure that we provide a good education for all of our children on various levels. I look at it from the perspective of my own business when it comes to hiring people. Quite frankly, we have trouble finding qualified people.
Q: What else drives you to participate in this effort?
Glenn: It’s important to our ability to transform the state’s economy and retain businesses here. I’m a past chair of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), and a big part of what businesses want when they look at relocating is a high-quality, innovative education system.
Q: How have the discussions about public education and state economic development and diversification changed within Nevada in recent years under the leadership of Gov. Sandoval?
Glenn: I think there is much more collaboration, many more conversations taking place because people do see that link between education and a healthy, diverse economy, and they are keenly aware that we have work to do to continue the transformation of Nevada’s K-through-12 and higher education systems.
Q: What are some key dynamics that you’ve learned through your efforts?
Glenn: The importance of early childhood education in terms of solving longer-term social issues in our state, we’re faced with growing costs in state and local government relative to the social needs of much of our population that frankly could be solved through education.
Q: Have you found a qualitative difference among your recent hires that attended K-12 schools in Nevada?
Glenn: We haven’t been in a position to do very much hiring the last few years. The students we hire are typically educated at the university level, and we’re finding they’re fairly well-trained in writing and as demonstrated by their communications skills. I’m just finding a lack of choice when we are looking for positions filled by the general workforce (office assistants, receptionists, etc.).
Q: What advice would you give to school principals throughout Nevada?
Glenn: I would advise them to introduce mentoring programs in their schools. When we hire an entry-level account coordinator, someone with no experience, I would never have that brand-new employee meet with a client. Over time they get to have those meetings.
I think about that with teachers, that they need to learn from (mentor) teachers. That would be one of my top pieces of advice – mentor training.
As an owner of a company I do not tolerate mediocrity among my employees. We work very hard to help them succeed. At the end of the day, if they don’t succeed they’re not going to be working with the company.
Q: Do you believe that’s a problem within our public school system?
Glenn: Because of the lack of teachers in the pipeline, I sense there is a little bit of acceptance of mediocrity or low performance. I don’t want that for our kids. We need to make those hard decisions. I wish they were all great teachers.
Q: If you could fix one thing about Nevada’s K-12 system what would it be?
Glenn: Some of this is a bit anecdotal. I have a daughter who is a third-grade teacher at a high-risk school in Northern Nevada. We need to provide high-quality teacher training to make sure we have consistency across the board. We hear of great success in schools. There are many examples where kids have excelled, but there are also examples of schools where they haven’t.
Q; Why is that?
Glenn: I have to think it has to do with the people in the building – the training, the mentoring. There’s also another challenge. My daughter has a ton of transition (among students) within her school. The class she starts with at the beginning of the year is different at the end of the year (as students’ families move to other neighborhoods). I want all of our schools to be stars.
Glenn: That means that all of our kids are reading by the third grade, are on grade level in all of their subjects, that we have a 100 percent high school graduation rate. Those are lofty goals but when we set them and achieve them Nevada succeeds. If we set the graduation goal at 90 percent are we saying that 10 percent of our children don’t deserve to succeed?