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Nevada County Board of Education

The Nevada County Board of Education is the elected governing body of the Nevada County Office of Education. It’s five members serve four-year terms; are elected by voters in Nevada County; and represent different regions of the county. The primary responsibilities of the Nevada County Board of Education are to work with the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools to establish the direction and priorities for the Nevada County Office of Education through its budgetary determinations and to provide leadership to support the success of school districts in the county. In addition, supervisory oversight is provided for any charter school whose petition was accepted by the county office of education.

Board Members


Louise Bennicoff Johnson

Board Member, Trustee Area I:
Chicago Park, Nevada City, Twin Ridges, Union Hill, and Camptonville Union School Districts
7/8/2020-present (Current term 2022-26)

Louise Bennicoff Johnson

Louise Bennicoff Johnson was born in Reading, Pennsylvania.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Penn State University, a Master’s degree in School Administration from Fresno Pacific University and a Doctorate in School Leadership from William Taft University.

A lifelong learner, teacher and coach, Louise retired from our local public schools in 2018.  She taught high school biology, geology, chemistry and physics.  She was an elementary school principal, a District Director of Curriculum and Instruction, an Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and a California school district Superintendent for 15 years.  Her most recent assignment was that of Superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District where she oversaw 7 high schools in Nevada County, CA.  Her personal life mission statement is, “To bring the gift of school to the children who need it most.”

Louise has returned to her love of education with a commitment to serve as a representative of Trustee Area 1 on the Nevada County Board of Education.  Louise lives with her husband in Nevada City, CA and is delighted to be able to serve our beautiful community in this role.


Susan Clarabut

Board Member, Trustee Area I:
Chicago Park, Nevada City, Twin Ridges, Union Hill, and Camptonville Union School Districts
12/18/2019 – present (Current term 2022-26) 

Susan Clarabut

Susan Clarabut has dedicated her entire career to improving public education.

Susan has served Nevada County as a teacher at Chicago Park School, Superintendent/Principal at Chicago Park School, principal at Pleasant Ridge School, Assistant Superintendent at Nevada County Superintendent of Schools and Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Curriculum at Grass Valley School District. 

Susan holds a BA in English, an MA in Best Practices in Teaching, and has credentials in School Administration, English, Multiple Subjects and Special Education. 

She and her husband, a retired fire chief, have lived in Nevada County for 36 years and their children attended Pleasant Ridge District schools and Bear River High School.  Their son works as a mechanical engineer in Santa Clara and their daughter follows the long family tradition of educators as a 1st grade teacher in Placer County.

Though retired, Susan continues to support new teachers locally as the Nevada County Coordinator for Teacher Induction.

Susan continues to be inspired by the Margaret Mead quote that she has in her office:

“We are now where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.”


Timothy May

Board Member, Trustee Area II:
Clear Creek, Grass Valley, Penn Valley School Districts
December 2020 -present (Current term 2020-24)

Timothy May

Timothy May began his first four years of a lifelong career in education teaching English at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, California, followed by a forty-year tenure at Yuba Community College in Marysville, California. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of Utah and an M.A. in English from the University of Pacific in Stockton. In addition to teaching full time at Yuba, he also held leadership positions in the Faculty Association and the Faculty Academic Senate. Timothy is a father to three grown children, all married, all graduates of the Nevada County School System, and all living in California, with two grandchildren and two more on the way. A thirty-year resident of Nevada County, Timothy lives in Grass Valley with his partner, Carolyn. 


Heino L. Nicolai

Board President, Trustee Area II:
Clear Creek, Grass Valley, Penn Valley School Districts
July 26, 2018 – present (Current term 2022-26)

Heino L. Nicolai

Heino came to the U.S. in 1958 from Dresden in former East Germany and grew up in upstate New York. He has an AAS in Electronics Technology and a BSIT from San Jose State and worked for IBM Corp. until he moved to Nevada County in 1990. He has been married for 32 years and has two daughters who graduated from Nevada Union. Heino is now 90% retired still doing a bit of work selling training software to the maritime industry. He served on Clear Creek’s school Board for 17 years, was a member of the Nevada County School Boards Association and a Board member of Beyers Lane Community Service District. Heino enjoys working on projects around the house, riding his mountain and road bikes, doing dance aerobics several times per week, and volunteering with various community organizations. 


Julie Baker

Board Member, Trustee Area III:
Pleasant Ridge School District
2020 – present (Current term 2020-24)

Julie Baker

Julie feels a high quality educational foundation and a successful school system are critical for the future of our students and our community.  She and her husband have lived in Nevada County for 22 years and their three sons attended Nevada County public schools.

As the Executive Director of California’s statewide arts advocacy organizations since 2018, Julie has worked successfully to increase the legislative clout and visibility of the arts community by building coalition across for and non-profit sectors of California’s creative industries.

Locally, she has served as Executive Director of The Center for the Arts and California WorldFest; and has also served on several boards including California Heritage:  Indigenous Research Project; NUHS Site Council; Friendship Club; Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation; and the Nevada County Arts Council.  Julie is an honored recipient of the Peggy Levine Arts & Community service award.