From farmer to sailor to educator: A ‘servant leader’ will soon retire – Idaho EdNews

From farmer to sailor to educator: A ‘servant leader’ will soon retire – Idaho EdNews

Harold Nevill, CEO and superintendent of Canyon-Owyhee School Service Agency (COSSA), is retiring this month after leading the rural hub for 11 years.

Months before Harold Nevill’s retirement date, he was planning his successor’s next steps.

Nevill wants the next leader of the Canyon-Owyhee School Service Agency (COSSA) to succeed. So he penned a six-page “turnover” letter that details his troubles and triumphs at the alternative and special education career-technical school that draws students from five rural school districts.

The former submarine operative covets the practice that he learned from his two decades in the Navy.

Nevill, a meticulous veteran with a second-career passion for preparing students for the workforce, will retire this month after leading the Treasure Valley community school for more than a decade. After a lifetime of serving others by devising policies, serving on foundation boards and on months-long submarine trips, he is looking forward to more time to think and learn.

“I still believe in hard work. And I try to put in a full day of work, whether it’s here or home, everyday that I’m above ground,” said Nevill, whose last day is Wednesday.

“He’s a servant leader,” said Clay Long, Idaho’s Administrator of Career Technical Education. His leadership style is “never for his gain.” 

Farmer to sailor to educator

Nevill was born and raised in Nampa to his farming parents. While he was in elementary school, Nevill’s parents moved to Payette County. He graduated from Fruitland High School in 1974 and joined the Navy, where he served on four submarines over 21 years that took him to Guam, Minnesota and Washington.

While in the Navy, Nevill graduated from Regents College in Albany, New York, with a bachelor of science in 1987, and he earned a Master of Management and Administration from Metropolitan State University in Minnesota in 1993.

Nevill dressed in military formal wear.

He retired as a Navy lieutenant commander then moved back to the Treasure Valley with his wife and two kids. He spent a short time working for a Department of Defense contractor before turning his attention to education. 

“I do believe very strongly that in America, you can still make something of yourself by getting a good education and working hard,” Nevill said.

He taught physics, science, math and electronics at Vallivue High School in Caldwell from 1997 to 2002, then becoming a career-technical electronics instructor at the Dennis Career-Technical Education Center in Boise. He also served as manager for trade and industry programs for Idaho CTE and as CTE coordinator for West Ada School District before joining COSSA as a business teacher and principal. In 2009, he earned his Doctorate in Education and an educational specialist certificate in educational leadership from University of Idaho, which led to a promotion to CEO and superintendent in 2010.

Nevill’s military background influenced his leadership style. He delegates and trusts his employees, and he adheres to the principle of hiring good people, and letting them do their thing.

He has high expectations for teachers because “the stakes are too high to slack,” he said. If students in COSSA’s alternative program fail, this …….