MOHAVE VALLEY — Jonathan Clark met River Valley High School principal and athletics director Dorn Wilcox only two years ago.
That isn’t to say Clark doesn’t know the AD as well as any of their coworkers. On the contrary, Clark wears a quartet of hats for the Dust Devils — as a teacher inside RVHS walls and as varsity coach for their football, track and field, and boys basketball teams.
“Dorn took on the position and did a phenomenal job,” he said, adding that he admires Wilcox’s work ethic. “I never worried about minor details on game day, as I knew they would be handled. That allowed me to focus on coaching.”
Wilcox, as logic dictates, knows all about coaching — as he once toiled in that capacity for RVHS’ wrestling, softball and football teams. In fact, there aren’t many faculty positions he hasn’t filled, given that Wilcox has been around since the school was established in 1992.
Upon moving from Wyoming to Mohave Valley in 1990, Wilcox began teaching at Mohave High before transferring to River Valley.
After 16 years of instructing young Dust Devils, he took the reins as vice principal in 2008; six years later, he was promoted to principal. Due to “changes within the administrative personnel,” Wilcox in 2019 also became AD, a role he expects to inhabit again for the upcoming school year.
“Frankly, the way he handled running the entire school — from athletics to budget to discipline — was quite impressive,” Clark said about Wilcox, who isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and finish tasks that aren’t necessarily in his job description. To wit, Clark recalled once witnessing Wilcox modifying the RVHS library, painting walls and stacking books. “He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.”
That’s an understatement, seeing as he wrestled and played football in high school, before attending Colorado Northwestern Community College on a wrestling scholarship.
Wilcox earned a business education degree at the University of Wyoming.
On the home front, Wilcox is the epitome of dedicated: His marriage to Maggie, a dental hygienist, has lasted 42 years. Their two sons, of course, graduated RVHS.
As has been the case for everybody, COVID-19 has changed Wilcox’s daily routine and strategy.
“Since March 16, I and the other school staff have been working on getting students to complete their school work and improving their grades (remotely),” he said. “My job has changed with trying to communicate with staff, students and parents by email, dialers and social media.
“It has been challenging to communicate to all stakeholders during this time.”
Clark said he appreciates those efforts and the fact Wilcox “seeks input from stakeholders before making decisions.”
Speaking of decision-making, Wilcox said his least-favorite aspect of the job is when students choose to drop out.
“We work diligently to keep them in school, but some students and parents cannot be convinced,” he said. “They have great potential but decide a job or significant other is more important.”
Conversely, according to Wilcox, there’s nothing better than watching students mature between their freshman and senior years.
“Most grow and change so much, it’s amazing to see,” he said.
One thing that hasn’t changed, decades after Wilcox first embarked on his journey as an educator, is his main goal.
“My motivation is to make River Valley the best school it can be,” he said. “We have a great staff and students, and I want them to always work hard to be the best in the classroom and in sports.”