Four years is all I need

Four years to prove that student-centered learning is what it’s all about. I’m using the Rahm Emanuel/Arnie Duncan model from Chicago. From crap to well, better. Progress not perfection. Four years to completely turn SVHS around.

And it won’t be pretty, think Balboa High reconstitution 1998, cause that’s what’s needed. We’ve been doing the same thing for far too long. And while we’ve been doing the same thing, everything else has changed. I’m talking Green School pathway, Artquest-like school of the arts, Language Academy, LEAP and Altschool vision and a completely realistic look at what’s working and what’s not.

I will not shy away from national events or encouraging opinions and debate. I will not threaten teachers with being fired if they participate in Gun Reform protests. I will prioritize important issues and support teachers who choose to participate in the process. I will not try to put students in a box but rather fit the box to the student. Simple right?

The good teachers will love this, the bad ones will hate it and I will encourage movement out of SVHS for anyone who says they don’t like teaching because to be student-centered means that you care, that student failure is your failure and you should lose sleep over it. I will support you with free bikes and wine socials and discounted housing but I will expect hard work and pride in your learning environment in return. 

Innovation will be part of the job description so if you don’t embrace change, it might be time to get the resume updated. How about four day school weeks with a fifth day volunteering in the community? How about new opportunities students want? How about a coding and tech academy and only assigning homework that actually improves student learning? How about converting part of the SDC into a helping academy?

And I promise to piss off almost everyone who doesn’t believe in student-centered learning. That is our product and we will connect and support it at all costs. Administration, new superintendent, and school board will all work to support teachers because that is their job. Period. If you can’t play nice, go find another sandbox to work on your ego issues. Work together or fail.

I will walk the walk, providing as many opportunities for students as possible. And literally I will walk the walk, spending as little time as possible in my office, walking the campus, plogging, ala Bob Kruljak 2001, and talking to students, popping into classrooms, not to criticize but to help.

I will build relationships with students, teachers and the community. And I will reach out to the community for support and to foster connectedness. Vocational programs with local businesses, more interaction with the Sonoma Museum, Community Center, and events like the Film Festival, Plein Air, Vintage Festival, and all the other special events that make Sonoma unique.

I will encourage building things like the Frisbee golf course we just created on the backfield, Integrity murals around campus, sculptures, and don’t get me started about the pool (actually already planned and funded).

But, c’mon, let’s be real, I doubt I’ll even make it through paper screening. I’m not bilingual (and have strong opinions about it), year and a half experience as principal of the Arts And Ethics Academy a charter high school that went under six months after I left and was barely surviving when I was in charge (actually I was never in charge, the director and board were). I kinda flubbed my one opportunity as middle school summer school principal. Plus 18 years teaching in an alternative school is kind of a double-edged sword.

Most importantly though, I’m not in the club. I’m outspoken and political and opinionated and kind of a pain in the ass. I tell teachers that if half their class is failing, they are failing, I tell superintendents and board members that they work for the teachers, and I almost always side with the students because, well, honestly, I usually like them more than most of the adults.

 

But I should be the high school principal simply because it’s the perfect time for change. New superintendent, big changes at the district office, plus our current CFO and head of curriculum understand the importance of student-centered learning.

 

And why stop there? Why not reboot the whole educational system? I will make my policies of national interest, I promise to work with Governor Newsom to make student-centered learning a statewide thing. I will even appeal to Betsy Devoss because… OK, now I’m just talking crazy.

 

Four years is all I need.