Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Opening Remarks as a First Year Principal

What to to say it...I can’t speak off the cuff...I think too much...dissect my thoughts...analyze my words as they come out of my mouth...I wrote my words down for you today to give clarity to what I want to say.

I have been planning for this for the past four years, I have thought about how I would answer the interview questions, how I would articulate my vision, and how in this moment I would stand in front of you equip with nothing but my words to get you to believe in the other administrators, in your den & department, in yourself and most importantly your students.

I am not afraid of failure...I am not afraid of not meeting our goals...not hitting every benchmark...the new state tests...the CPM visit...or even WASC.

What I am afraid of is not having a campus where people feel safe, safe to express their ideas, safe to express their opposing ideas and question the things that we do with the intent to make them better.  What I am afraid of is not having a relationship built on trust, respect, and compassion with each and every one of you. Today marks the first day we...the staff of Pajaro Valley High School...join together and support one another.  At times our job can seem we are being asked to do the can hurt, be frustrating and in some cases feel hopeless.

I have set some personal goals that I would like to share with you.
  1. Make classroom visits a priority to increase visibility and daily support.
  2. Timely communication to decrease confusion and assumptions
  3. Take opportunities to recognize the good work you do each and everyday

I AM...going to ask you to do what seems like the impossible...Consuelo, Deanna, Maria Elena, Matt, department chairs, den leaders, your colleagues, your students, our parents...and yourself...will be asking.

...but it is only impossible if we try to do it alone.

Will you raise your hand with me and help carry the 14-15 school year together to make the impossible...possible.

It is a great day to be a is to an AWESOME school year.

PS - They all raised their hand.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Daily Dose of Positivity!

+Planet  website launched on February 7th with anticipation (see short video documenting the event) and from that moment  the Media class at Pajaro Valley High School has turned their classroom into a place of developing instead of a place of consuming. The class launched their first website Positive Planet with the goal to "Change the world, one thought, one action at a time". The instructor, Dutch Tessier, with the help of his students cast a website together to make a space to promote positivity. Walking into fourth period you will discover the lights off and different groups of students huddled around computers, independently researching or conducting a meeting. The students are divided up into departments consisting of Local Marketing, National Marketing, Editorial, Art Department and Content Creation. Departments are acting together to market and design each aspect of the overall website and supporting social media sites. Local marketing is making a T-shirt logo and organizing a campus clean-up day. National marketing is developing a YouTube channel and fine tuning the social media sites Twitter, Instagram, Facebook . The editorial department is reviewing submissions and keeping content current. 

The buzz in the room is electric and watching students, who were behavior problems a few years ago facilitate group discussions is jaw dropping.  Watching the students work collaboratively to produce and run a website is a concrete example of 21st century skills.  The skills I am referring to are not technology based (even though those are useful) but those which engage students in critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, and communication.  The students are generating new ideas, reaching out to the community and working with each other to give the world a positive place to share.  You can't help but smile when you view +Planet. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Living the Dream"

I am stealing this quote from a few teachers on campus here at Pajaro Valley High School who respond to the question, "How's it going?" with "Living the Dream".  The first teacher who responded to me that way caused me to pause and chuckle because I took it as sarcasm.  He paused back and said, "well aren't you?".  He smiled and continued on and I began to ponder whether or not I was "living the dream".

Obviously the dream for educators does not reside in the salary or the students who have the perfectly honed skill of pushing every last button on a Friday afternoon.  The dream is more about the student who stays after class to ask for extra help with an assignment or watching a student pick up trash that wasn't hers.  The second semester sophomore who is finally getting to class on time after a freshman year of referrals to the office.  Two students who have a conflict are able to talk out their problems in your office without having to suspend them for fighting.  The senior who completed his last credit recovery class so he can graduate high school.  How about looking out into the crowd on graduation day and being proud of the top 10% but more importantly looking at the few faces who are sitting in those chairs because you were there to help them find their seat.  You took the extra half an hour to listen to their story, to advocate for, to guide, to mentor, to parent and to give that tough love to.  

Educators have a thankless job with customers who don't always recognize the work.  Sometimes we ourselves get wrapped up in the daily minutiae and forget what it's all about.  Make sure you are "living the dream" and if you haven't been thanked in a while for the job you do...thank you.