By Anya McCue
Every year the Condor Press catches up with our Principal Lito Garcia to find out what is on his mind as we begin a new year. This annual conversation also gives Mr. Garcia a chance to introduce himself to all of our new students here at SBJH. Enjoy the interview!
Condor Press: Can you tell me a little about yourself and any outside of school activities that you do?
Mr. Garcia: Born and raised in Santa Barbara and I went to Roosevelt, went here to Santa Barbara Junior High, and I went to Santa Barbara High School. My daughter is 22 and at UCSB and she is a senior. For outside of school activities I like to go work-out and I also like to go to the movies and try to spend as much time with my family as I can outside of school.
Condor Press: Do you have any experiences from college or from this age that you would like to share?
Mr. Garcia: For college experience, what I really recommend is that before they decide what college they want to go to, that they go and visit that college and if it’s out of Santa Barbara that they go visit the town that its in. And spend at least a couple days there because if you don’t like the town or the area no matter how good the college is you won’t like the experience. For students now in junior high, I would say don’t be shy to ask for help, go raise your hand or go talk to a teacher privately. If you need help, go ask because I was the type of student that wouldn’t ask for help in junior high and I regret that because I didn’t get as much help as I probably needed.
Condor Press: Was this the job you always wanted and when and how did it really sink in that you wanted this job?
Mr. Garcia: So the short answer is, no. When I got my teaching credential I just thought about teaching and so I taught American History to 8th graders and I was very happy doing that and I never thought about being a principal. And when I was teaching the principal that I was working for, he came up to me and said that I should start thinking about becoming an administrator and so that’s what started the process and so it was someone else’s idea that influenced me.
Condor Press: If you could have any other job at this school what would be?
Mr. Garcia: I would want to be a PE teacher because I enjoy spending time outside and doing a variety of sports and I think that would be really nice change for me.
Condor Press: How is it different working with this age level then any other age level?
Mr. Garcia: Well, I have only worked with this age level. So this is my 25th year of working for the school district and its always been with junior high kids.
Condor Press: Describe one lesson from school or an experience that has helped a lot with what you do today.
Mr. Garcia: Listening to students and their story, because that is important information to know where they are coming from and why they are doing well or why things aren’t going well for them and where they need help. So not making judgments about people and hear their story.
Condor Press: How do you provide support to students that aren’t doing as well as other students?
Mr. Garcia: I will meet with students and have a conversation and try to help them figure out some priorities and where they need help and I will make sure I follow up and make that happen.
Condor Press: How do you find ways to discipline students and how do you know it works?
Mr. Garcia: You know it works if the behaviors stops. No one is perfect so even if the behavior stops it doesn’t mean that somewhere down the line the student may mess up again. The biggest thing that works is if the students can go for a while without getting in trouble and then if something happens they are honest about it. And that if they mess up they tell the truth and I feel that the work we are doing with them has sunk in.
Condor Press: What would you incorporate into the curriculum that no one else has yet?
Mr. Garcia: I would like to see more real world application. So getting student out in the business community or in the community in general they are doing things that relate to what they are learning about, so a great example is the Journalism class when you have an opportunity to go to the Santa Barbara Film Festival and interview some of the people on the red carpet. That is real world, or what your doing right now going out and interviewing me. So I would like to see those, you know, more opportunities on campus to do that.
Condor Press: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Mr. Garcia: In 10 years I still see myself at this school being the principal and ensuring that we are even better than we are now.
Condor Press: What’s your favorite part about this job and what’s your least favorite?
Mr. Garcia: My favorite part is just hanging out with the students. Before school saying good morning to everybody. At lunch time, just hanging out and talking with the kids about the things that they are doing. My least favorite part is writing reports and replying to 70 emails everyday.
Condor Press: What is the greatest challenge you face when you are a teacher?
Mr. Garcia: Making sure that every student in your class is understanding the material and that every student in the class is enjoying the experience and the material.
Condor Press: What experiences in school help students in the real world?
Mr. Garcia: Solving problems as a group, I think is something that helps students in the real world because when you get out there you have to work with other people and so if you figure out how to work with people in school than in the real world it will just be that much better.
Condor Press: Thank you for sharing, and have a great year!