(NORTHWEST LAS VEGAS)–You can call him “doctor” now, thank you very much.
The assistant principal of Arbor View HS just received his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from UNLV recently and it almost seals an education career that spans nearly a quarter of a century, with the majority of that time being spent in the Clark County School District.
He is in his fifth year as vice principal at the far Northwest valley school.
But Dr. Marentic has a fierce personal side–his love of music–and it is slowly becoming part of his professional side.
When our conversation began this past Tuesday morning over coffee at Starbucks near Arbor View HS, we spent the majority of our time reflecting on past racial incidents which have severely hampered and affected the culture and the quality of life at AVHS. When our conversation concluded about an hour later, it was clear that he was reflecting on how to cap off his career.
But he’s not done yet.
Contemplating on the incidents that occurred this past Spring in which two students were arrested, tried, convicted and expelled over planning a series of racially charged terror attacks against nine black students at AVHS, and more recently, reports that some students yelled inappropriate remarks toward black and brown students during that school’s Spirit Week, Marentic said the school continues to address the culture and climate at AVHS and lessons continue to be learned.
“After the incident (last Spring), we were reflective on our social-emotional curriculum,” Marentic said. “We don’t care about your ethnicity or religion, we just want you to get a quality education or be prepared for the military.”
He explained the recent reports of threats during the school’s spirit week.
“There was one report I received regarding someone wearing a MAGA hat, and an investigation took place. Some students complained they didn’t like the hat.
The great thing was that we got community members involved to talk about spirit days.
We had a cowboy day, where unfortunately, black students didn’t participate despite the existence of black cowboys,” Marentic said.
Lessons continue to be learned. Dr. Marentic credits the school’s BSU (black student union) along with several area black Greek organizations, in an effort to help mobilize the school’s youth of color and help unify the larger student population.
And in the absence of leadership on this issue by Las Vegas city councilwoman Michele Fiore, whose ward encompasses AVHS, Marentic said the school is concentrating on a larger communitywide effort to bring people together, using social media.
“E&D (CCSD Equity & Diversity) is involved in conversations, about school safety, we’ve talked about the climate in our country, and the processes in moving forward to be successful, as far as education with all students, to understand their point of view,” Marentic explained. “We want the community to see successful black men on campus, we’re trying to do what we can to ensure diversity is on campus, where all people are welcome.”
Originally from Chicago, Dr. Marentic leads an education family. With five children and wife Belinda, herself with CCSD’s Educational Services Division, he uses music to attempt to make complex issues make sense.
“The book I’m currently reading is Tonal Harmony by Straus. It looks at 20th century mathematical equations to write music. My dad taught me the music business,” he said, explaining that he played trumpet while in the Army. Marentic is a veteran of the first Gulf War.
As he is slowly winding down his career, having spent many years in CCSD (with previous assignments at Von Tobel MS, Mojave and Canyon Springs HS, and West Prep MS, Marentic laments on what the future holds, both for him and for diversity among the teaching ranks. Only two percent of the national teaching cadre are black men and there are only a handful of black administrators within the District.
“Where are our black teachers,” Marentic boldly asked. “I would like to see more teachers and administrators of color. Back in the day, I always saw black teachers, I think it’s important. Our media paints a horrible picture about us and people need to see who we are,” he added. But he also agreed it’s a national problem and doesn’t fault the District that there are few black teachers and administrators in its ranks.
But most importantly, Dr. Marentic wanted to let people know that racism doesn’t define Arbor View’s campus culture and that there are good people there.
“There are good teachers, good people, good families at AVHS. With these incidents, they were devastated as well. There are plenty of people who want what’s good for our students. We had a lot of teachers step up and ask how they can help to ensure everyone is included. Same with administrators, they are all good people,” Marentic said.
Editor’s Note: the CCSW Sunday Spotlight aims to feature the human side of a CCSDer. If you or someone you know may have an interest in being interviewed for the Sunday Spotlight, contact me here on email@example.com.