It’s August which means in two short weeks it all begins again. There’s more than a new sheriff in town and his name is not Reggie Hammond. A quick list of some of the changes (with a little opinion thrown in cause, well, would you expect anything else?):
Superintendent: Soccoro Shields, like her, already visited my classroom, not nervous with students, which is my barometer for a good educator.
Associate Superintendent: Bruce Abbott, ex-board member of the Buck Institute, a very good sign.
Director of Human Resources: Johnathan Ferrer: I popped in and introduced myself over the summer and he was engaging and interesting, thumbs up.
Director of Special Ed and Student Services: Vanessa Riggs, Impossible to fill Nikarre Redkoff’s shoes, but hopeful.
Coordinator of Special Education: Lori Stark, see above comment.
Principal SVHS: Justin Morri, friend of Will Deets, ex-clown prince of SVUSD, good sign.
SVHS Vice Principal and Activities Director: Shawna Hettrich New combo position, interesting change. Tough to fill Casey Jones’ shoes especially half time.
SVHS Athletic Director: Basketball coach Mike Bowles, already left me a phone message to see if he can do anything to help with the golf season, a very good sign.
Principal Altimira: Christina Waters, also disciple of Will Deets, hopeful.
Vice Principal Altimira: TBD (To Be Determined).
Principal Creekside: Sydney Smith gets bumped to the district office as new Student Services Coordinator. Replacement TBD, although everyone knows Creekside is run by office manager Terri Hernandez.
School board changes: Dan Gustafson gone, Sal Chavez probably gone, and John Kelly possibly gone. Might be time for you to run…
Director of Teen Services: TBD. Cristin Felso is leaving after an incredible 20 year run. Fair, assertive, inspiring, hard working, always student centered. Tough loss.
SVHS changes: New sports league, Vine Valley Athletic League means a tougher season with more competition (Petaluma, Casa, Sonoma, Vintage, Justin, Napa, American Canyon) and a longer golf schedule (first match August 28), new teachers, new air conditioning units and new tennis court lights. Lots of change and as we all know, change is good.
There will be a settling period when personalities and responsibilities find their pecking order but if we keep the mantra, “What is best for the student” in mind all that should work itself out. Or not.
My teaching team is unchanged and my thematic units will be similar to last year (http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2017/08/19/golfing-down-the-neuropathways/) with the addition of, “Media, Fake New, and the First Amendment” which I would title, “What happens when our leader is a baby-bully-sociopath” but since I have to stay objective I’ll go with the former.
It will not be the year of radical innovation. There will be no outlawing of plastic on campus (yet), tackle football will continue (for now) and all the other things I proposed way back in the spring will have to wait (http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2018/03/15/walt-williams-svhs-principal/). I didn’t make it through paper screening, as expected. It’s tough to join a club you want to fundamentally reform.
But enough of that, let’s be positive and hopeful and patient. Let’s get more involved, help out where we can and make our learning environments as beautiful as the town we live in. All the people listed above work for your kids and you should feel that support, more importantly, your kids should feel that support.
And there will be problems. Expect that and teach your kids that they have to persevere and have grit and get off their GD screens if they want things to get better.
Also, if they ever wanted to learn how to play golf or tennis or lacrosse, or be a better writer or artist or make videos or cook or raise animals or play an instrument or be in a play or a hundred other activities, now is the time.
Classes start August 20th.