Clovis principal leaves rock band, returns to education

Principal Curtis Shamlin in his office at Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School. (Contributed by Shaunt Yemenjian)

Curtis Shamlin left his career in education to tour with his band. But he returned to education when his wife said, “I married a teacher, not a rock star. Come home.”

As much as he loved his band, Shamlin also found comfort in returning to his career in education, which started when he was a 19-year-old teacher aide and coach at Clovis Unified School District. Shamlin then moved to Fresno Unified School District where he was a coach, teacher, and then administrator.

He left education for a while but missed the kids. Shamlin is now serving as the principal of Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School in Clovis.

“It’s like I’m in Heaven,” Shamlin said. “This school is amazing!”

For Shamlin, one of the best parts of working at a private school is that he doesn’t get overwhelmed with bureaucracy.

“You don’t have the state telling you what to do,” he said. “You don’t have to deal with the length of time it takes to get something done. You have to go through so many processes in the public school system. If you need a board approval for something, that takes forever.”

At Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School, Shamlin said he sends an email if he has a request and the process is usually done quickly.

“The board is amazing and very supportive. It lets me do what I need to do,” he said.

Although the school offers an Armenian class, there are also general classes that are geared for students of all backgrounds.

“We have two Armenian teachers that teach Armenian, the language. One is Western Armenian and one is Eastern Armenian,” Shamlin said. “They also learn history and culture.”

On Fridays, the students participate in Bible Study.

“We are a Christian school, so it’s a lot different than a public school,” Shamlin said. “They have Christian Education on Fridays where one of the churches from the town will bring somebody from their church and teach the lesson to the kids.”

Located on Villa Avenue between Herndon and Sierra in Clovis, the school holds 120 students, from 2 years old in the Pre-Kindergarten classes, through sixth grade. After the sixth grade, most of the students move on to Fresno or Clovis schools.

Shamlin said the plan is to expand the school to middle school, then high school, and “maybe eventually, a community college.”

“I’m working on a lot of great programs for the school,” he said. “We are beefing it up.”

As a former coach, Shamlin also takes pride in expanding the athletic program. He recently set up a private school league which includes six Fresno/Clovis schools. They start competing in mid-March.

As he wakes up every day at 5 a.m., Shamlin said he’s eager to come and work in an environment that’s different from others.

“It’s nothing like you experience in the public schools, nor should it be,” he said. “We want to be as different from the public schools as possible, in every way, better.”

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