As a teacher, I was fortunate to work under great leaders. When leadership opportunities presented themselves, I was interested. When I began taking leadership courses, I enjoyed the topics we discussed and felt a desire to be a school leader.
Who or what inspires/inspired you?
I am inspired by teachers who do whatever it takes to open up young minds to learning. Those teachers are completely dedicated to their students no matter what their background. They also have learned a great secret: that in spite of the tremendous hard work required, the more you invest in your students, the more joy you experience.
What are your school’s Top 3 accomplishments?
- Achieving both the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the US Department of Education in 2007 and an 'A'-grade from the Arizona Department of Education the last three consecutive years.
- Enhancing our high school curriculum to include seven AP level courses, with a Computer Science course in the works.
- Virtually 100% of Presidio graduates pursue higher education.
How do you and your team defy expectations?
We don’t put limits on our expectations for students. We insist that all students demonstrate mastery of essential content, and we provide them with the time, resources, and encouragement to do so. Working together as professional learning communities with embedded leadership, we support each other as educators. This model has enabled Presidio, a school-wide Title I school with over 70% of our students from low income households, to accomplish great things!
What is one of your Big Goals for 2016?
Our motto for this year is, “Drawing on our Rich Traditions as we Build our Champion Team Together.” It is important for me as the new principal and for my other colleagues new to Presidio to thoroughly understand and embrace those rich traditions while at the same time bringing our ideas and experience to the table. Likewise, it is important for veterans of Presidio to embrace change that will improve the school even as they continue its awesome traditions.
One specific goal for the year has been to strengthen our early childhood education program through the addition of a Pre-Kindergarten, and that program is off to a great start. We are also working to provide a variety of extracurricular and sports activities for students of all ages and grade levels.
What is the biggest challenge that you and your students face?
Our biggest challenge is technology – having the technology resources to give our students an edge, developing technology literacy needed to successfully access information, manage assignments, and take assessments. This is a challenge for our students and educators alike.
Tell us one unique story about your school and culture.
We speak often of the Presidio family, and I’d like to highlight a beautiful example of this. Mr. David Vick is our new Martial Arts – Capoeira teacher. Mr. Vick wrote a letter of thanks to the entire Presidio staff soon after joining the staff. Mr. Vick wrote:
“I never thought I would find a place so supportive and welcoming at all levels as the Presidio School. From the Administration, to fellow teachers new and returning, and some enthusiastic students from all the grades I teach, I’ve never felt so supported professionally and as comfortable and energized in all aspects of my life since I’ve started working here.
It’s only been a month and I’ve received drawings from students, cards from students, and notes and emails from fellow teachers that have warmed my heart and have been so supportive. I will continually be in a state of amazement as I keep working here because I never thought that having the privilege to teach what I love in an environment such as this would have ever been possible for me. I have told the students as such directly, and that they have quite literally helped me visibly improve not just as a teacher, but as a practitioner of capoeira.”
“Well said, David. I have felt the same since I started as well. Glad to have you as part of the Presidio family!”
“I know that I am not alone in my heartfelt gratitude for the exceptional joy and knowledge that you bring to our school. It’s easy to let the words ‘We are the Presidio family’ slip into our conversation, but you are a solid example of what that really means. Welcome to the family, my brother. We are glad that you are here.”
“Thank you for your kind words…. [they] reflect your character and the Presidio family. You bring an undeniable enthusiasm to your subject. Our students have a special opportunity to learn capoeira in their everyday curriculum. Thank you, again, for your kind words; they have put a smile on my face. Here’s to another great year at Presidio.”