Founding Principal – Rio Mesa High School
” This is not just my reward, it belongs to the people I worked with at Rio Mesa High School … “
The youngest of seven children, Elmont Michaelson was born November 4, 1923, in St Charles Idaho. Following his high school graduation, he entered the U.S. Army in 1943, serving with the 71st Infantry in the European Theater of Operations until his discharge in 1946. He then enrolled at Utah State University and received his B.S. in 1950. He was recalled to into the Air Force in 1951, serving as a Special Forces Officer at Travis Air Force Base.
In 1952, Elmont married Pat. They are the parents of two boys and two girls, and now have 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
After his discharge from the Air Force, Michaelson began his career in Education at Oxnard High School where he remained until 1965. During those years he taught Military Science and was Commandant of Cadets. He then moved into administration, as Attendance and Welfare Officer, Boys’ Vice-Principal, and Director of Athletics. In 1965, he opened Rio Mesa High School as its first Principal, a position he held until his retirement in 1984. During his tenure there, the school grew from 642 students to more than 1800.
As the educational leader of Rio Mesa, Michaelson set a tone and established a philosophy for all who came to the school – faculty, parents and students. He inspired and led the Rio Mesa community to promote and maintain high expectations in academics, personal achievement, and athletics. Rio Mesa blossomed into more than a school – it became a way of life centered on its students and the desire to ensure the fulfillment of each individual’s potential. Much like the fertile crops surrounding it, Rio Mesa flourished under his dedicated leadership. Rio Mesa received California State School Board Association recognition for several of its programs and was nominated as a California Distinguished School.
Individually, Michaelson was twice recognized as the Outstanding Secondary School Administrator by the local chapter of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), and he was also lauded for his work in the areas of Special Education and Youth Leadership. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and the Rio Elementary School District commended his contributions to education as well. The staff and students at Rio Mesa regarded him so highly that they named the school’s athletic stadium Elmont Michaelson Stadium in his honor.
Under his direction, Rio Mesa became a unique school, which included not only an ethnically diverse student body, but also distinctive programs for the hearing impaired, physically handicapped, and educationally challenged. His goal as an educator was to make each student feel a part of the Rio Mesa family.
Even in retirement, Mont (as he is known to those close to him) has remained active in the Retired Teachers’ Association, twice serving as its President.
Michaelson has dedicated and lived his life for education in the fi nest sense. His life represents the best and most worthwhile qualities of a man, an educator, and administrator.