Maria Escobar: Okay, my name is Maria Escobar. I'm a high school principal at Roosevelt High School in Fresno Unified.
I feel as a principal that I work for students and I work for their parents, and I'm their advocate. Uh, then I work to facilitate uh good learning and helping teachers be as effective as they can to ensure that there's good learning going on in the classroom. And I tell my administrators it's in that order. We work for students, parents, teachers. We are a low man on the totem pole. We are here to serve. When you have that mentality then you know that we're all about the same thing. So when students come in you have to look at them as your clients. Um, my job is to make sure that learning is going on and to evaluate the effectiveness of the learning that is happening, that my teachers are teaching to the standards so that students are getting access equal access to curriculum so that they can go on after. I want them to access higher ed. Um whether it be community college, um via vocational school, or higher levels of learning at a university. But high school a high school is not sufficient. They need to get additional training. Now if they so choose to finish up with high school, then then that's fine, but I want them to have access to whatever they choose to do, and the only way to do that is to make sure that they have equal access to the curriculum that the state of California provides for them.
Part of serving students means that you create an environment that's conducive to good learning. Students um are empowered to be a part of their own learning, to take a part in school, to have a leadership role in what happens. To feel empowered over their own uh destiny. To believe that they can be better then they thought they could be. And I tell my counselors especially that that is their mission. You make students believe you make them feel that they can be more then they ever thought they could be because many of our students don't have um siblings or family members that have gone on to higher education or who hold professional jobs. Sometimes its its quite a challenge to get them to perceive themselves as anything other then a minimum wage job. Their happy if they have any job. Um, so that's part of what we're there to serve. When parents come in I need to stop everything I'm doing to listen to their concerns and to respect their culture. Um, some of uh my administrators want to What are you here for? What can I do for you? and its chop, chop, and out the door. And I say, No, you've got to sit there and listen to them. Sometimes they will talk to you about all of their siblings all of their children and the problems their having at home before you ever get to the youngster and the situation at hand, but you have that's that's a Latino and Asian culture does that. You which is very different from ours, where we're very oriented. Let's cut to the chase. What's the problem? How are we going to solve it? And then out the door. So you have to be sensitive to your cliental and respect them, and I spend a lot of time just sitting there listening to parents. They come in upset about something and I always say, Please sit down. I'm sorry that that this has happened. Let me listen to what you have to say, and I'll try to take care of it. I rarely give them an answer right then and there because I have to go investigate and find out what happened. But the fact that I listened to them and that they feel that I'm going to resolve it in a speedy manner and get back to them is very important. And I tell my administrators You must respond to all of your phone calls. If you call home and there's no one home write on the slip what time you called. Sometimes you'll have to call 3 times and then parents will say, I no one ever called me, and it's really nice for me to say, You know, I called you at 4, I called you at 7:30 yesterday. You know, I called you at 3 and there was no response. And they go, Oh, well yeah, I wasn't home then. Well, I did respond to you, you know, but you weren't home, and I said, Do you need to do those things because it's really' The P.R., parents feeling that the school is taking care of their needs is so important in the partnership. And to really serve students you need to involve the home. It's crucial. You need to involve the community. It's a partnership. It's not something the school can do by itself, not nearly as effectively as if you involved the parents and the community in serving students and to help them be successful.
Well, one of the things that we do for our our parents, um I have meetings that are held in primary languages, not even with translators. I'll have a meeting that's fully conducted in Mong, one that's fully conducted in English, another one in Cambodia or Kamai, uh and maybe in in uh Laotian. We have the same agenda in every room, an administrator that speaks a primary language leads the meeting, or some a leader leads the meeting. We don't always have an administrator that speaks all those languages, but to have students parents really interact and really get involved and become a part of the school process. You can't have meetings in English, they won't ever come. We do have some meetings that are in English, but we have ear phones it's like a (INAUDIBLE) United Nations. I have translators in the back of the room that translates simultaneously what I'm saying in English into their primary language. And you'll see parents shaking their head and looking at their kids and responding to what you're saying. So we have those types of meetings, but we also have meetings that are totally conducted in a primary language. And I remember I use to sit in the Mong meetings all the time and I was just there in case they needed to refer to me for questions and I I told uh one of the coordinators Let me sit in the Spanish speaking meetings so I can interact. I didn't have any interaction. They didn't need me at all there either. They were answering their own questions and arguing with one another and con uh, you know, giving advice as to how to handle problems with kids and and they would set the agendas for the next meetings and things of that type, and that helped us with our parent involvement more then anything because then the parents felt respected and that their opinions did matter. And when they had concerns we responded to that. When the Mong parents said, We need someone in the office who speaks Mong so when we call into clear an absence or when we come to the school we know there's someone there who can attend to us. Well, when we hired someone they felt Oh, good. So we had a Mong counselor, a Mong attendance clerk, a Mong you know, different people and they felt Okay, we asked for it, we got it. All we need to' then they believed that that all they had to do was ask and we would try to you know, we you can't always, but that you would respond to the needs of the parents. It's very important to get them there and to make them understand what parent involvement is, that it doesn't mean that you come to Back to School, and Open House, and then that's it, or if you call in with their absence. That it means that you turn off the T.V. for 2 hours every night and make sure that someone is doing if they say they don't have work then homework, then put them to read. And dad's not listening to the to the radio station or doing but that dad's reading the paper so that you model or that you create an environment at home also that supports what the school is asking you to do. Or that you make sure that your students access the services at the school. For example, at Roosevelt, we're in Southeast Fresno. It's a predominantly lower socioeconomic area of town and I keep my school library open until 5:30 every day and I have it open Saturdays from 9 to 3 so that students can come and access technology. They can do their work. I have tutors there from the university that helps them in geometry or social studies whatever area they need help in. And lots of times I'll have whole families there because there's a younger brother or sister from the middle school who needs help in algebra and they'll come get tutoring with the high school student, and you'll see a whole family sitting there or you'll see a group of students who are working on a project together. Sometimes you see students who just need to get out of the house because there's so many people at home and they just come sit in the library and read. And so it started at the beginning there were hardly you know, very slowly, very few students, and now I will walk in and on a Saturday we might service 120 students that come in and out. They're not all there at the same time, but they come in and out and check out a mouse, and get on the computer, and work on their reports, save the work, and come back. So it's making our school uh real user friendly. Our our library is called our learning center, as opposed to a library, and we have tutors there, a coordinator, a full-time teacher that coordinates that center. So so that's some of the things that we try to do to try to equalize access for our students. You know, when my daughter needed to do a report we'd get into the car and go out to the university. We'd get on microfiche. I'd help her look up things. My parents can't do that. They weren't alumni who can get a card. They wouldn't know how to use a microfiche. You know, it's a whole different ball game on south on the south side of town as opposed to more fluent households. So you've got to make the playing field a lot more equal for your kids.
Well, you there's there's each language group, which is attached to a culture has very different needs and you have to know about the culture to be sensitive to those needs and to respect them. And and as I mentioned before in the interview, when these families come in they'll come in with children. I bring them all into my office and sit them all down. I make sure I have toys in my office, or something crackers for them to eat. I have to create an environment where parents are going to be able to talk, and I have to be very approachable. I I always dress up a lot as a principal because I don't look like your typical principal. I'm not a tall, white male. I'm a short, Hispanic, little bit overweight woman. So I always have to dress up otherwise people don't know that I'm the principal. It can be 105 freshman orientation and I'll be the only one in a black suit and heals, but they pick me out as a principal. And and the parents like that. They really do like that, that I dress up that way because the and then I try to make them feel very important and I I live in the community. If I run into them at the grocery store they always spot me, Oh, (INAUDIBLE), and say Hi. Half the time I don't remember all their names or who they are, but I know if someone is saying Hi to me its one of my parents and I respond. But a big thing is how you communicate with a different culture groups. You cannot rush people through your office and say, What's your problem? Let me get you somewhere else where they can help. You know, you have to listen to them. And um the language needs I always make sure that I have I don't speak Mong, but I always get a Mong translator when I think that it's going to be something that is very sensitive I need to totally understand what is happening. Sometimes some of the Mong parents speak a little English and and after a while they'll come into to see me and they won't want the translator. They feel like they can speak enough to me that they just want to talk with me. What's going on at the homes is very important. We we um have fixed up a lot of our old computers and we take them out to some of the homes and let them have them. And, my gosh, you'd think you were bringing them a brand new car, and everyone is all excited. And and one of the things the reason the library is open later is because when I was going to some of the homes I noticed that there would be 3 to 4 families living there. I would go into a home and I would see mom and dad and the 3 children that go to my school, an older sister with her husband and 2 kids, and the grandkids, and the grandparents, and maybe cousins who were there for a little while, while they transitioned into getting their own. And I'm thinking How do kids how can kids do homework in this environment?' The radio is going, the T.V. is going, kids are running around, someone is making dinner, people are talking. There is no way that my kids are going to be able to sit down and read and study in this environment. And and that was one of the reasons why we started extending the hours at school and making things more accessible to our families and to to our students.
Well, one of the things I have a program at school, it's East it was a it's called Environmental and Spatial Technology, and the kids in that program always have to have projects. And one of the first projects I gave them was I want you to scan the Roosevelt attendance areas and tell me where my pockets of students live by language groups. So if I can't get kids to stay after school to get help in algebra I can send an algebra tutor out to that apartment complex. I can go ask the apartment manager if they'll give us a room and have the kids after dinner go there to get algebra help. If I need to address a group of parents, let me go out to this housing project because I have 30 families that live out there and and access a place where I can go to them because people think that parents don't care. 99.9 of your parents love their kids and care and want them to be successful. They don't all know how. And they're trying to feed their families, stay ahead of the rent, and the PG&E. They have a lot of needs, and they're first, you know, and then the school comes in and says, Don't take your child to the doctor to translate for you. They need to be at school. But how does a family get to the doctor and how do you get those services? Don't keep your children home to baby sit for their younger siblings. They need to be in school. But if the kids aren't babysitting for siblings the parents aren't going to work and making money. So you have to recognize what's going on in in households. I remember one night, it was it was kind of it was a very unsettling situation where I took a young man home after a basketball game. It was like 11 and the kids were still hanging out, and I'm saying You guys have to get home. Let's come on, get in the car. Let's go. I drove them all the way across town and the boys didn't want to go in the house. And I said, Do you guys live here? And they and it was out of our attendance area, and they said, Yeah. But it turned out their mother was a prostitute and she had men in the house. And they stayed out of the house a lot because that was where mom worked out of. And they didn't want to be around that. And I noticed these were boys that hung around all the time and they ate, you know, uh candy bars and Pepsis. So we started looking at what do we need let's start feeding these kids that are you know, let's start doing more things at school because our students don't all live in in suitable home environments, and you have to know what's going on so that you know what and you can't, you know, meet the needs of everyone, but you have to be sensitive to that and your student population, your clientele. My gosh, in business if you're not sensitive to your clientele you don't stay in business. We don't go out of business, but we don't get the test scores we need or we're not having students go onto college or get into advanced placement programs. So we have to know what the needs of our clientele are and we've got to motivate them to understand If you don't do this that's the kind of life that you're going to have and that your children are going to have. Are you going you know, so let's let's see what we can do to steer you away from that path. And I I'm fortunate at Roosevelt and that I have a great team of people who are very and passion is key who are very passionate about helping students. Um if you you can give me a brand new teacher who knows nothing, but if they have passion I can teach them. I can give them everything they need to be great teachers, and that's the difference. A teacher who inspires is a great teacher. Anyone can get up there and do a great lesson, but if no one is learning then what's the point? You know if if you're and I always use my own I went to well, as a matter of fact, he was my technology coordinator and he taught at the university, and I had to take some computer classes. He was so far advanced as far as his level of technology from mine that when he spoke to me I it may as well have been in Greek. I didn't know what he was doing. But I would take the lessons home and my boyfriend would explain them to me and show me how to do them. Then I would bring it back done. I'd sit through 2 hours of class not knowing what he was talking about, go home and learn, and come back, and that's how I got through class. And it's that way for many of our students because they haven't a clue what the teacher is talking about, but they'll sit there and they'll listen. And if they don't have someone at home to explain it to them if they're not going to go to a tutor or get an older brother, someone to explain it to them, then they're lost. I at least had the skills to know. I have to get through this class. I better get someone who can teach me because' and he was a good teacher and he he is a great technology coordinator and the people who were at his level related to him and were moving right along. I wasn't there and I was too embarrassed to say, What is that? What are you talking' I mean I could have been asking him questions all night. I didn't do that and I know students do the same thing. They'd rather not say anything because it's too embarrassing to continue to raise your hand. Then pretty soon you become a nuisance of a teacher, um so you don't say anything and you act like you know and you walk out of there and you go, Oh, my God, what was that all about?' You know, so if you have study groups, if you have tutors, if you have other ways for students to learn. So I asked teachers, I said, While you're teaching in class what what do you have in place to assess quickly whether kids are getting it because you need to adjust your your teaching right away, not 2 weeks not when you give the unit test, but how are you going to adjust? And and we have teachers who are masters at it so I can send teachers into other classrooms. Um, I have a science teacher who I got a couple of years and she has the most difficult group of students. They're all a combination of EL, RSP, um and and its I mean you're talking about Spanish speaking, Mong speaking, Kamai, lots of language groups, and she has them so on task. I walk in and I can hardly ever find her because she's running around. But she provides them but she keeps them all working. And and as I go from group to group they're all doing science, and I think Gosh, how does she organize this, you know? But she's very good at what she does and she's very enthusiastic, and she demands that they do well, and she has she's a good disciplinarian. And if you're not going to learn then you need to be somewhere else before you keep someone else from learning. And so students know right away that that they're not going to be able to get away with not being on task and paying attention, and so forth.
When I when I and I talk to my parents about testing and the importance of testing. And I'll say, What is we don't want students to lose their culture, their language, at the expense of acquiring English, but we need them to master both. If they're going to succeed in this country they need to master both languages and cultures because this is the dominant culture. This is what they have to master to succeed without losing where they're coming from.' My one of my greatest challenges at Roosevelt is that out of the 3,200 kids I have students I have, 1,100 are English language learners, and when they have to take the SAT-9 in English it doesn't reflect their ability, their how much they've learned in science, social studies, math, um they're taking a test in English. If they were able to take the SABE, which is the Spanish version, they'd do well. So when I'm held accountable for how they do on those tests, when we're all held accountable, and when the whole school is perceived as Oh, this isn't a very high achieving school because the students are bringing down the uh API because they can't do well on those tests, and I address that with my community. And I'll tell all of my parents, It's not that your students aren't learning here. We have um a lot of scholars that go on and and students do acquire a language. It takes 4, to 5, to 6 years to acquire language, and and sometimes including our own mayor here in Fresno is very anti bilingual education and he thinks its horrible that I have classes that are conducted in Spanish and Mong. And I have said to him, If you moved to Japan today with your children and they were put in algebra, and biology, and history classes that were conducted solely in Japanese how well do you think they would do? And he says, Well, I would put them in an American school. I said, Yes, but we don't have Mong schools. We don't have schools that are Spanish in Spanish. And when those children cross my threshold I'm there to teach the masses, and I have to teach them English. And the goal of bilingual education is to acquire English, but while they're acquiring English I need them to continue to learn math, and science, and social studies. So I offer those to them in their primary language and slowly break them into the (INAUDIBLE) classes where they have the sheltered English until their in total English classes. But I have to address their academic needs and their primary language. I can't keep them from learning at core curricula until they acquire English. They may not acquire English for 5 years at that academic level. I am totally bilingual. I have a master's degree in Spanish as well as English. When I'm around and when I'm at the Mexican consulate at a social event and they are speaking Spanish and these are educated Mexicans from Mexico, I have to give them total, total uh attention, look at their body language, and be totally involved in the conversation or I lose 50% of it because my language is not at that level. I I would have difficulty going to Mexico City and learning history and Spanish even though I am totally bilingual because my academic language is really English even though I can communicate fluently in Spanish. And and when I go to Mexico the longer I'm there the better I get, and I I watch Mexican T.V., but there are a lot the idioms are so different, uh, the culture so much of language is culture. There are things that you won't even understand because you're not of that cul the jokes are so difficult. You know people have acquired total mastery of a language when they can understand jokes in the second language, and so much of it is culture. If you're making jokes about things in in the media and politics, you've got to be immersed in that culture to understand what they're talking about. Our kids aren't there, so they miss so much of that. Yet we're held we're being they're being held accountable the same way that we hold English, you know, the other students the students who spoke English as a primary language. So it's real challenging and it's it's frustrating for me yet you work with it. You just continue to work with it. You make sure that they have good test taking skills and that they you know, you just do the best that you can.
Because I I've I've held on to my belief that bilingual education is essential because I have seen it work. Because I have seen students who come to me who speak very little English as 9th graders who graduate from high school and pass the entry-level math and the um the all of the entrance exams for the CSU System and go on and become very successful in college. Uh, a lot of it has to do with what you do with them during those 4 years. If you get a student who is schooled in their primary language it's a piece of cake, immediate transference. They learn English and they're on the most challenging students are students who are illiterate in their primary language, as well as English, and then in in in Roosevelt High School in Fresno, many of the students that we have are from a state in Mexico that is very high poverty or (speaks Spanish). A lot of the fathers a lot of men from (speaks Spanish) come to work in the states and they send money back to their families. In Mexico a lot of families don't go the kids don't go to school because they can't afford it. So you've got children who are lower socioeconomic in Mexico, not going to school, without a father in the home, so mom may have to be working and then the father finally brings them to the state and they're unschooled. They haven't had the family structure that other kids might have, and then we're having to deal with a lot of other issues besides language issues. Um, you know, we did a lot of reading on what's happening in (speaks Spanish) and there's a lot of poverty kids who are starving to death, and and the families who come here are families who are looking for a better way of life. And children have grown up in such dyer poverty that um, you know, when they come here they think Oh, my gosh, it's school. I had a student that was telling another one of my students You come to the United States and you get an education in a nice, clean, warm classroom? You get fed breakfast? You get fed lunch? They give you your books? If you don't have P.E. clothes they give you some? You know, my gosh, what more can you want? How can you not come here and learn? How can you not take advantage of that? You know, and he was scolding another boy because he wasn't doing what he was supposed to or I forget all of the details, but I thought, Wow, I'm glad he appreciates what he has and what we have to offer in this country, and so and that was pretty amazing.
How do I tell if a teacher is a teacher learner and what I look for in hiring teachers aside from their passion is their willingness to learn. And I ask them, Are you clad? What are your goals for just for self-improvement? We will expect you to go through staff development. These are the goals of Roosevelt High School. This is our vision and our mission statement. Can you work with that because this is what I'm going to expect of you. And I may walk into your classroom and if I don't see what I perceive to be good learning, I will talk to you about that not because I want you to be threatened or intimidated, but because I want you to improve. Now I don't expect you to come to Roosevelt being a perfect teacher year 1, or even year 5, or whenever you come to me. I'm hiring you because I perceive that you're someone who will collaborate with peers, someone who cares about students, someone who will take responsibility when students aren't learning. Who will not just say to me It's because the kids are la are lazy, or they don't want to do their homework. Because I will say to you, Why don't they want to do their homework? Why are they not motivated? You know, do you not have the level of enthusiasm necessary? But I I mean I ask these questions, but I'm trying to get you to think about What can I do to be more effective as a teacher?' What can' and I have my teachers evaluate me and tell me how can I be more effective as a principal? How do I support you? And sometimes teachers will get very angry with me because, you know, I will require portfolios of them to show me evidence that they are teaching to the standards and how have they integrated literacy into their curriculum, and I want to see evidence of it, you know. And they'll say, Well, you're creating a lot of work for me. I said, No, this is what you should be doing every day. I should be able to walk into your room and see evidence on your of student work, um rubrics, um assessments, uh student portfolios aside from yours, um that that show me what's going on even when I'm not watching what you're doing because you're you know, that's a little snapshot when I walk in. But I can look at your things and I know, Wow, look at look at what's here. The kids have been evaluating each other's essays. Um, you know, all of that needs to be in place. So when I interview teachers these are the dis these are the kinds of discussions that I have and I ask them, Do you have a portfolio? Can you show me what you've learned? You know, and I have a system in place at Roosevelt High School because I have 135 teachers. I can't be in all the classrooms and I can't, you know, see how everything's going in every department, but I have 5 teacher coaches in each of the core areas well, in language arts, math, science, social studies, and special ed. These coaches are down 2 periods and they are teacher coaches in the true sense, that they're there for teachers. They're not an extension of an of an administrator. They don't report to me on how teachers are doing, but they go into a classroom and if you say to them, I'm really struggling on teaching these concepts. Can you give me some resources? Can you model teach? Can you cover my class while I go watch how my neighbor is doing it? Uh, the teacher coaches also are in charge of the collaboration periods, which are built into our daily schedule. Um, teachers are required it's part of their daily twice a month they are required to uh go to teacher collaboration meetings and the teacher coaches run those. Regardless of what department you're in, every teacher collaboration meeting has the same agenda, which is literacy, and they talk about What are the things that you are doing to address literacy in your department? And and the the people who are doing a bang up job on it are even the elective teachers because they know if our students don't do well in other classes and they have to remediate, it takes up spaces on their schedules that would be for the electives. So we have to help teach literacy and math not just literacy, but math as well, um so that they can be freed up to take a technology class, or a homemaking class, or whatever, and to reinforce what it taught elsewhere. So the teacher coaches, which is this will be our second year of teacher coaches, and I took them to get trained on how to facilitate meetings, how to be teacher coaches, and so forth. Um, I think it's going to be even more dynamic this year. I have department chairs. They do something entirely different from the teacher coaches and and but the teacher coaches are there for teachers and to help. And if I find out that a teacher is having difficulty, I'll say to the teacher, Contact your teacher coach and ask them to come in and watch a few lessons and see what kind of ideas they can give you. Or I'll tell the teacher coach, I want tell them that I asked that you go in there and do that. And it is starting to open up. More and more people are coming in and doing teachers are very threatened. They think they should do things perfectly. They're very easily intimidated by colleagues that come Oh, my gosh, they're going to see me doing it in a certain way and its not going to be the right way. So we have to change the culture of how we do our business in education where we don't collaborate as much. You know, I see it even amongst principals. We're so competitive, you know, and it's like they don't want to know what I'm doing. They have their own thing that they're doing. Everybody has their own thing that their doing. Oh, I mean there's more talking and we learn from one another, but it's unfortunate that that's not something that we would want to learn from one another. Now the teacher coaches will meet and share ideas on how they present it. They go chapter by chapter. For example, in math Sharon Hart meets with the algebra teachers. How did you present this lesson? And they they write assessments, they're own assessments at the end of the chapters, and How did your kids do? Well, why didn't your kids do as well? Why maybe present the concept this way and so forth. And they share ideas and bring um manipulatives and it's neat. I've sat in at lunch and watched them sometimes, and I'm like a fly on the wall. They don't even notice that I'm there sometimes. So that's that's one way that we've um looked at um improving instruction.
Literacy is the most important thing that we can do at any school. If if my students cannot read, they can't do math. Math is not about doing equations. It's about understanding when you see a problem, when you read a problem which equation you need to use to do the math. And and I can use an example even with my calculus students. I have calculus students who can do equations up the wazu, but when you give them a word problem they have a difficult time understanding what equation to use to solve that problem. There isn't anything that you're going to be very effective at doing is if you don't have literacy first. And with literacy you have full access to the curriculum. Without literacy you are extremely limited in what you can do and will always be, and you certainly will not have access to higher education, so that is why literacy is the most important thing that we have to address. (Interruption) No, no. I was an English and Spanish teacher.
Okay. Um, when I walk into the classroom I will know if students are learning when I talk to students and ask them What are you learning? What are you what is the objective of this lesson? If I don't see it up on the board, um and very often I do. Teachers will start the lesson and say This is what we need to accomplish. This is what you have to master. I will look for rubrics. I will look to see if students are um there's a lot of if they're working together, if there's a lot of talking. I walked into a history classroom one time looking for a teacher and I couldn't find the teacher. There was a a a trial going on, and the students who weren't involved in the trial, who weren't the attorneys, and the defendant, and the plaintiff, and whatever were reporters that were writing about and they all represented certain interest newspaper. And it was a trial being held in the South during a certain period of time. And the teacher was creating he could have talked about it, but instead he created the trial for the classroom. And he was kind of like a coach. He was providing Here's the research you need to do to get the background information to do a good job on your article. Here's what you need. You're representing the Louisiana Gazette, a very conservative magazine. You're representing this art this newspaper from the North, etc., so what you write is going to have a very different slant. And then, of course, there were the people that were involved in the trial. And um I just went in to watch for a few moments and I was so amazed that I had to stay throughout the whole thing. And those students will never forget all that went on. And I asked them, What did you learn from this? And they could articulate? And what is this and how does this transfer to anything else? And and not only were they able to do that, but they were so motivated it opened up learning for them. They got excited about history. They got excited about learning. They developed a vocabulary that they hadn't had before. There was all sorts of things where where they're writing. They were having to write and they were being challenged and they were looking at other newspaper articles and trying to follow Oh, (INAUDIBLE) a who, what, when, how in my first paragraph and and all sorts of things and that they had to do, and it was tremendous. And he he runs his class like that all the time. Uh, I walked into Derek Voucher's class one time when he was doing uh the stock market and I could hardly keep my mouth shut because I wanted to tell the kids what stocks they should buy, you know, and what to sell because of the crash and and so forth. And he would give them shares and they had to actually assimilate a stock market. And there was so much learning going on and it got the kids so excited about the real stock market and what's going on, and Well, you stay these are bonds that you stay in for the long haul. You can't pull in and out of them. And um I one of my math teachers was having a difficult time a special ed teacher, teaching percentages. So she took her students to a car lot and said finger out how much you're going to have to pay for this car when you have interest over the 5 years. And he and he got the salesman to go along with him and the kids did a tremendous I mean experiences real life applications. When you get an algebraic equation and you can figure out what height your little brother is going to be when he's 16 by plugging in the x's and the y's, that makes it relevant, and how the teacher the level of enthusiasm. Is the teacher sitting behind a desk, are they walking up and down, are they checking on what's going on, are they sitting with groups listening to what's happening to students. Lots of times I'm walking into classes and the students can tell me, show me, This is what we did last week. You know, or I'll go into to I look at their portfolios and see samples of work uh and and all those types of things uh maybe happening.
The one message that everyone must live by in a school is you treat a child like you would treat your own. And as when as a principal and I tell my students this, when I make decisions for you I would make them as I would for my own child. Um, there's a 3-year math requirement in Fresno unified and they have to take algebra, geometry, and a 3rd year of math. Um, if my students have not finished Algebra II, that level of math, with a C or better I require them as seniors even though they have 3 years to keep taking math, and I will have seniors that come back and say, Why? I've already met my requirement. I shouldn't have to be taking math, and I say, Yes, you should. Because if you don't have a C if you don't have knowledge of math at the level of Algebra II with a C or better you you aren't prepared to leave high school. You don't have as much math as you should to be able to be successful. And they'll come in with their parents and I will say to their parents, If you will sign a letter saying that you will take full responsibility over why your child is not well prepared for college, or the school or the world of work, because you have decided that they should sit out their senior year uh doing nothing, or being a helper, or going home early instead of acquiring as much math as they can to be successful, then I will let them out of math but you're going to take the responsibility for that because I'm not going to have them come back in 2 or 3 years and tell me that Roosevelt did not prepare them for math because you went along with them in letting them leave. I have not had one parent since I implemented that 2 years ago that has ever been willing to sign that letter. And I'll say and I'll say to parents, I said, I my I could not come to school. I could not work as a principal if I did not care about my students. And the only thing that I can do to assure you that I'm going to make the best decision that I can is that I will make decisions for them like I do my own child, and there is no one in this world that I love more then my daughter. And there are things that my daughter didn't want to do, and I said, You need to do it or you're not going to be successful when you go onto college. And I didn't sacrifice all these years to be where I am so that you don't take full advantage of what I'm giving you. Now you're here in this school, you learn as much as you can. You can you know, when you get out of here you're going to do what you want, but until you're 18 years old I'm going to make sure you have the best darn education I can give you. So I tell students, If you haven't gotten algebra with a C or better you're taking a 4th year of math in your senior year. When you get out of Roosevelt I want you as prepared as you can be. And even the counselors oh, they get so upset. So I told them The only one who can make an exception to this rule is me. Every I want every student in there and there's an exception made and I found out that somebody let someone out of math, you're going to have hell to pay. So that's the one thing I say to everyone. You must treat a student as if he were your very own.
Um, one of the things that I I speak sometimes to student teachers at the university, um or students who are thinking of going on into education. They're not student teachers yet, some of them are looking at education. And I will say to them, If you are getting into teaching because you have the summers off, and weekends, and vacations, you are picking the wrong profession. There this is the most honorable profession in the world and you can be proud if you're an educator. And I respect my teachers a great deal. They have more challenges these days then I ever did when I was teaching. I taught for 14 years, but many years ago, but I say, Don't get into education unless your passionate about it, unless you care about kids, you're willing to learn, and constantly learn. You will not get to a point where all your learning is done. I say, I am constantly having to learn and relearn uh to keep on top of my profession. Um, so don't so if you get into education know that you're going to have many hours of correcting papers, planning different lessons for different groups of kids. You're going to be extremely frustrated because there are going to be days when you think you're not being effective and that's the most horrible feeling is like, I'm not doing the job. And then there's nothing more wonderful then when it clicks and the kids got it and you feel' And I have teachers who say, I thought I wasn't going to come back after the winter break and then it went so much better and then they're God, it's going great now. It and it goes like that. Just like when you were in college and there were times when you thought you were going to have to bail out because you couldn't keep up with the work. It it's got to be the most challenging there is working with young people and what a tremendous responsibility. And I'll say, You are so powerful as an individual. You will make or break a student. You can look at them, and smile at them, and pat them on the back, and make them feel good about themselves and it will make their whole day, their whole week so much better because they were in your room that day. And you can do the opposite. You can devastate them because you embarrass them or say something negative and and they don't want to come back. So that's a tremendous responsibility, so don't get into education if you're not willing to take it on.