News

The Principles behind the Principals

A Q & A Interview with Dos Pueblos High School Principal

By Sarah Jang, 2019/2020 ASB President Dos Pueblos High School

Principal Bill Woodard has led Dos Pueblos High for 5 years and can always be seen whistling down the hallway with a big smile. During passing period, he’s always visible – walkie talkie in hand – with that ever-present smile on his face. He is known for his boundless energy and positive attitude. No matter how busy he is, Mr. Woodard is always there to support us.

Q: What is your current state of mind?

It’s been a very tough time for the DPHS and the Goleta community with the passing of one of our students followed by a tragic accident that took the lives of two of our parents–a wonderful couple who I knew well. But we are leaning on each other and it has been heartwarming to see the community rally around our families who have experienced tragedy. It’s also an incredible privilege to help lead our school community through these tough times and try to be there for the families.

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is hearing your daughters laughing hysterically. Some of my favorite memories are of my wife Lindsay and I being in our bedroom and hearing my two daughters cracking up in the other room over something they were doing or watching. Priceless.

Q: What is the best part of your job? 

Seeing our students succeed– whether it’s designing and building a museum quality exhibit, or making the winning shot, or nailing their closing argument in a county mock trial championship, we all share in their success. But it’s just as (or even more) gratifying to see a student who struggled as a 9th grader turn it around and walk across the graduation stage after overcoming some personal obstacle. That’s why we became educators for those moments that live on forever.

Q: What is the greatest challenge of your job? 

I’d say the greatest challenge is wanting to change an educational system, (and wanting to do it overnight!) that was set up for a different time and different needs.  We need to fundamentally transform education from merely a content delivery system to a skill-development enterprise that develops students’ creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills. But it’s a wonderfully fulfilling quest– and at DPHS we’re going to do it!

Q: Which living person do you most admire? 

I’d say Michelle Obama– the epitome of grace and class under pressure while also inspiring countless girls to dream big. “When they go low, we go high!”

Q: What is the quality you most like in a person? 

Empathy. It’s the reason I feel literature is so powerful as it gives readers the chance to step into someone else’s skin and see things from different perspectives. That’s where empathy comes from.

Q: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Sweet”

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

I’d love to be more patient -and to have a better poker face when I’m annoyed.  And throwing a 95 mph fastball would be fun too.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

I’d say raising two compassionate, intelligent, and creative girls. I am so proud of them  (people probably get sick of me talking about them).

Q: If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? 

I’d love to be the starting center fielder for the LA Dodgers :). But short of that boyhood dream, being the principal of DPHS is a pretty good consolation prize. I have the best job!

Q: What is your motto? 

Hmm.  I love P.J. Fleck’s – the football coach from the University of Minnesota’s — motto of “Row the Boat” — which basically translates to energy, sacrifice, and motivation with a “never give up” attitude. He coined it after the death of his son, promising to live for him and live in the moment.  Wish I’d come up with that one.

 

A Q & A Interview with San Marcos High School Principal

By Mr. Andy Nguyen, 2019/2020 ASB President of San Marcos High School

“Our Royals need to think like winners. You cannot win unless you think like a winner. You need to expect to win. Losing should be an anomaly―not fate,” asserts Dr. Kip Glazer, Principal of San Marcos High School. “The same goes for learning. If you think that you can learn, and are able to overcome challenges of learning, you will learn.”

Born on December 4th, she arrived at LAX on September 15, 1993 to learn to speak English in the US. “I feel like I have two birthdays,” Dr. Glazer said. Staying with a host family, whose children all attended San Marcos High School, she was invited to a football game―remarking: “This was my first experience of American High School culture. And I fell in love with it!”

Attending the EF International Language school on Chapala Street in Santa Barbara, she then met her husband, got married, and moved to Santa Maria where she attended Allen Hancock college and then matriculated through Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She then received her teaching credentials from Chapman University and did her student teaching in Santa Maria for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School district―acting as a traveling teacher for all three Santa Maria high schools. “Being a traveling teacher was difficult,” she acknowledges. “This made me extremely sympathetic to our traveling teachers and their struggles.”

When her husband became ill and had to stop working for a while, the family moved to Bakersfield. Teaching at Arvin High School, she was a Health Academy teacher and successful Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) coach―winning the California HOSA Advisor award at a national competition. She then transferred to Independence High School, from which her children graduated. “I taught every level of English there,” Dr. Glazer explains, “from ELD 1 to AP English Literature. I even taught Web Design.” In addition, she was involved as a class advisor and Link Crew advisor, and wrote several grants for her students.

“This grant writing got me interested in action research,” she says “I then pursued my Doctorate in learning technologies and wrote my dissertation on using game development to improve student literacy and numeracy”.

After winning Kern County Teacher of the Year, she became the Instructional Technology Coach for the Kern High School District to assist teachers in instructional technologies and districtwide Chromebook deployment. There, she saw the importance of good leadership and pursued the career of a site administrator.

She then became the Dean of Students at Frontier High School where she took charge of intervention. It was intense. “I remember on the second day of school, two sophomores got into a fist fight and I had to break it up,” recollects Dr. Glazer, “then three days later, we had three fights break out at a  football game. I would say that was one of the most challenging jobs that I ever had, but I am grateful for that experience because I still use a lot of skills that I learned from that job to this day.”

Her sons then went to West Point. Experiencing empty nest syndrome, she moved out of Bakersfield as the poor air quality began exasperating her husband’s illness. She became an Assistant Principal at La Cañada High School and worked with a mentor to clear her credential. Her mentor was a retired Dos Pueblos Principal, who told her about the new opening at San Marcos High School. She said, “I remember thinking―wait―was that the school that my host family went to years ago? What are the odds? And here I am! It is remarkable to think, I came back to right where it all began.”

INTERVIEW

Acronyms: KG = Dr. Kip Glazer, AN = Mr. Andy Nguyen

[The final school bell chimes, signaling the end of the school day and approach of the weekend. Dr. Kip Glazer and Andy Nguyen settle into the office; a charming afternoon ray of sunlight falls upon the several Doctor Who posters lining the wall. The room is quaint, yet remarkably well kept and rather homey with Korean candies and cookies resting in a ceramic bowl at the heart of the meeting table.]

AN: Thank you so much for setting aside your time for this interview―I understand you have quite the schedule!

KG: Anything for you, Mr. President! I can’t wait to talk! Before we start, would you like a snack or water? [Dr. Glazer rummages through the back.]

AN: I appreciate your offer! I am fine―thank you! [both take a seat] You may be wondering what this interview is for. This interview is to get to know you more, for both my curiosity’s sake―as well as our student body and community and staff. The other school principals will be receiving the same questions as well. So to kick off the fun―here is your first question: What is your current state of mind?

KG: That’s an easy answer, as you are asking me questions my current state of mind is contemplative!

AN: [chuckling] An appropriate response! My next question is: “what is your idea of perfect happiness?”

KG: My idea of perfect happiness is to see my two children be happy. Listening to them laughing and having fun makes me so perfectly happy!

AN: That is great! If I recall correctly―your two sons attend West Point?

KG: One already graduated, but yes.

AN: How are they enjoying their time there?

KG: They are loving it! I can’t help but be proud of my sons who are out there serving our country [Dr. Glazer gestures towards two picture frames of her sons in uniform resting on her desk].

AN: That is fantastic! Now, for our fourth question: “what is the greatest challenge of your job?”

KG: Serving all our students and families with different needs with limited resources. Having to make decisions based on opportunity cost when I want to give nothing but the best for our Royals.

AN: [pauses] Could you give me an example?

KG: As a principal, it is difficult to not be able to hire a teacher to teach a specific classroom if there are not enough students. Education does not get as funded as much as I like. The US spends a large chunk of money on our military―can you imagine how much education would benefit if we spent the same amount? People forget what the mission of public education is. The mission of public education is to create an educated populace to protect our democracy, and it is unfortunate how little it gets funded.

AN: I agree. Benjamin Franklin once said, and I am paraphrasing here, “the library is the first bulwark against the biggest threat to our democracy―ignorance”. Public education is our tool against ignorance, and it is a shame how little we spend. My fifth question is: “which living person do you most admire?”

KG: RBG for having the most amazing marriage in addition to having an incredible career. It is a good reminder of the importance of having a supportive and loving partner.

AN: RBG..?

KG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg!

AN: That is wonderful! Unfortunately, I don’t know much about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, could you elaborate?

KG: (US Supreme Court) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had an incredible career and her partnership with her husband was incredibly supportive. For example, when her husband got sick she attended class, took notes for him, typed his papers, cared for her daughter and her husband―all while writing her own paper.

AN: That is outstanding and inspiring! I thought what I am juggling now is bad! My sixth question is “what is the quality you most like in a person?”

KG: Curiosity and honesty. I used to tell my sons that staying curious will take you far, for every innovation sprouted out of curiosity. With that is honesty. Honesty is a core for integrity, and integrity means a lot to me.

AN: Those are excellent points. The next question is: “which words or phrases do you most overuse?”

KG:  I have a few. No joke!” “Perception will become reality.” “Reward for good work cannot be more work.” I use these three phrases at least once a day. Someone once told me, “you use the phrase ‘No Joke!’ so much! No joke!”.

AN: [laughing] Where did you get these sayings, or did they originate from you?

KG: I think No Joke” is mine. Although, I am not sure where I got the other sayings. I know I got them from somewhere else though and I cannot claim them as my own.

AN: I understand, I have no idea where I get my sayings from―but I sure didn’t make them up myself! My eighth question is, “if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?”

KG: I would love to be more athletic. I cannot run fast enough to save my life. In fact, I decided not to become a policewoman because I was afraid that I would never be able to catch up to a criminal who might run away from me.

AN: [Laughing] Well, that can be fixed! Perhaps our Cross Country or Track team can help you out! Anyways, “what do you consider your greatest achievement?”

KG: My two boys who are good, kind, and loving men. I am so proud of them for wanting to serve this country.

AN: You know, I always knew they were in the military―but I have to ask. What made them want to go into the service?

KG: [chuckling] Funny story, I have no idea what made them want to go into the service. One day, one of my sons during his junior year of high school told me, “Mom, I want to go to West Point.” I laughed at him first because usually people say “they want to go to West Point,” they are like five or six years old. Not right before applying to college! Yet, it seems my doubt only made him more passionate―look at where he is now!

AN: Awesome! Next question! If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

KG: When I am dead, I am done. I don’t want to come back. I like to focus on the present, and I don’t entertain the thought.

AN: Not even coming back as a human?

KG: Nope. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but for now―right now is all that matters.

AN: That is inspirational and powerful. For my final, and favorite question. A question that all of the ASB Presidents in the district agreed unanimously to be asked to our principals. What is your motto?

KG: I also have a few. “Excellence is the standard.” “Be curious.” “Kindness doesn’t take extraordinary intelligence. We can all be kind.” “Little things matter.” In my head, I often say, “it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”, a Chinese Proverb, and finally, “Throw me to the wolves, and I will return leading the pack”.

AN: [thinking] Captivating. I see the “Be curious” motto from what you like to see in a person. But out of those chosen―which are your favorite or most meaningful to you?

KG: “Excellence is the standard.” I used to tell that to my children, do it right the first time. My other favorite mottos address kindness: “Kindness doesn’t take extraordinary intelligence. We can all be kind.” That’s what I like about you the most. Andy.  You are a kind person. I used to teach AP students, and I would ask them―what do you plan on doing after high school? They say they all say something along attending the best four-year college. I then ask them, what do you plan on doing after college? They say finding the best job out there and earning money. Finally, I ask them, after earning all of the money you need―now what? Think about it. If you are an AP student, taking difficult classes, then you probably are surrounded by mentors and family who supported you to succeed. It is your responsibility to take that support and give back to the community through kindness. I respect kind people more than smart people. Some smart individuals have damaged our world while kind individuals have helped our world much more.

AN: Thank you Dr. Glazer, that was extremely well said―and I agree very much! Many students today are only focused on toxic views of their future: getting into the best universities, best job, best money. In moderation, this may be beneficial. Yet, in extremes―it is addictive and damaging. Any further elaboration on your mottos?

KG: Sure! “Small details are important.” As an English teacher, I see poetry as the highest form of English for that reason. You have to use the fewest number of words to say the most. And good poets know that each and every single word can have a huge impact on the whole. As Mark Twain once said, “Sorry for this long letter, I didn’t have time to write a shorter one”.

AN: [thinking] [insert Eureka! moment] That… that makes so much sense!

KG: Right?

AN: Now, I know I have asked you many questions―but I have a few more questions from myself.

KG: Ask away!

AN: You were the adviser for the League of Legends club, and you also said your favorite game is League of Legends. What is your favorite League of Legends champion?

KG: League of Legends is the kind of game that you need to adapt to win. I don’t have a favorite champion as they all have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation. Although the game probably looks very different from when I played. [laughing]

AN: [nodding approvingly] That is the best answer! Now, I know you wrote your doctoral dissertation on using game development as an educational tool in improving student literacy and numeracy. Favorite games?

KG: I am a big fan of ESports. Video games such as World of WarcraftBioshockFortniteWitcherZelda―especially any game that makes you question morality.

AN: Very good choices! I have to ask, how do you take so many pictures of San Marcos events and do such an incredible job promoting our school? I hear from students at other schools talking about how San Marcos is such an incredible school because of all the incredible stuff posted on our social media. How do you do it?

KG: I see myself as the biggest cheerleader of the school. There is a misperception of San Marcos―people don’t know us therefore they don’t always have a positive perception. I am confident I can change that. One of the ways I am doing this is through social media. San Marcos already has so much incredible stuff going on 24/7, we just haven’t advertised it! That is where I step in. I try to be at as many school events as I can to take pictures, and I ask our staff and students to send me pictures whenever they have the chance!

AN: And we appreciate you so much for all that you do! Thank you so much, Dr. Glazer, I loved this interview and I hope you enjoyed it as well.

 

A Q & A Interview with Santa Barbara High School Principal 

By Miller Brichan, 2019/2020 ASB President of Santa Barbara High School

Dr. Elise Simmons is more than a principal. She is a kind and friendly face around the Santa Barbara High campus who anyone can walk up to and have a relaxed conversation with. When she needs to show discipline, she has a hard shell and will crack the whip, but when in need of a friend, she is always there. Dr. Simmons’ drive is clear, and nothing will stop her from keeping our campus safe and modern.

Q: What is your current state of mind?

I’m very focused right now because I was able to do some work over the weekend and get a hold of my schedule. Normally, my mind is going a million miles a minute. And, I’m usually always very positive, even if I’m completely overwhelmed.

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I am sitting on a tropical beach with a book and a drink. The family is around, laughing and swimming with nothing on my schedule.

Q: What is the best part of your job? 

Everything, except for student discipline. It’s always my hope that students can learn from their mistakes. But, it can be hard because it can mean that as a consequence, a student might lose out in their learning or school experience. It’s also hard when a student makes the same mistake multiple times.

Q: What is the greatest challenge of your job? 

Not having enough time. There is so much to do; all of it is important. With the challenge of not having enough time, I always find myself trying to set-up boundaries and finding a balance. I struggle with balancing work and family, usually work wins – which isn’t good.

Q: Which living person do you most admire? 

I admire the leaders of the district. They are constantly defending all students, making hard decisions, and getting beat-up by our community. They remain strong, positive, and focused regardless of what is being thrown at them.

Q: What is the quality you like most in a person? 

I am drawn to people that are joyful. Joy is important when it comes to staying positive and finding balance. My husband is always happy and laughs easily. It’s a quality that I admire and try to strengthen myself.

Q: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“That’s rad.” I say it often, in different tones and with different facial expressions. It can mean, “amazing or awesome” or it can mean “unbelievable” in a horrible and sarcastic way.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

I can be self-deprecating. I think I learned to do it as a young person to protect my self-esteem. Junior High was a rough three years, and it’s tough for most people. Now, I do it to be funny, but it’s not that funny when an adult does it.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

I was completing my dissertation while working full time. It took about three years of REALLY hard work. The worst part was waking up at 4:00 am to write. Black coffee was my best friend.

Q: If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? 

My cat – Ms. Kitty (sometimes known as Kiki). Her life is perfect – sleep all day, get rubbed and petted every time she jumps into our laps and doesn’t have a worry in the world. And, her personality is great – very assertive, a little bossy, and always proud of herself.

Q: What is your motto? 

It is what it is. My childhood was full of trauma, and the way that I was able to get through it all was to focus on the things in my life that I could control. Those things that I couldn’t control, I just didn’t give much energy to. It is what it is.