By Clara Watson
I had the honor to interview and meet our new principal, Ms. Curry. Ms. Curry has a background of working as a special education teacher at Monroe Elementary School, and eventually became the Assistant Principal at Washington and Franklin Elementary School. Ms. Curry always knew she wanted to work in education. When she was in kindergarten, she wrote a book titled: “All About Me” and described her dream of becoming a teacher, and has maintained that goal ever since. During her high school years, she cultivated a passion for reading and writing. Her 9th grade teacher was an inspiration to her, and encouraged her to become an English teacher. She started off in college planning to get a degree to teach English. However when she was in college, her cousin at 2 months old was diagnosed with autism. She began taking care of him, and became immersed in the world of special education. After that experience, she knew that’s what she was called to do. Ms. Curry began working to get her masters degree in the behavioral industry supporting students with autism in a school environment. She graduated, and got her masters and teaching credential in special education, and finally achieved her new dream of becoming a special education teacher.
“I enjoyed my junior high years a lot, and felt that I would be compatible working in a junior high school. In the past I mainly focused on working with upper elementary students, so junior high is close to what I am used to experiencing as a principal. I was joking earlier that I can now wear my heels all day long, there’s not as much running around school on my feet and playing with kids like in elementary school. The hustle is different, more connecting emotionally, less physically, I can connect with you guys intellectually on a deeper level.”
Junior high is a really important phase in everyone’s life. Before going off to highschool, students need to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to prepare them for high school and life as an adult. A lot of us are wondering why we suddenly have learning support this year. Ms. Curry explained how her biggest priority as a principal is student connectedness. It’s important to feel connected to your school and that there are trusted adults here you can feel safe with. The administration is very excited about learning support, because it gives opportunities for students to have a go to trusted adult.
“Students only know their own experience, and we don’t realize that some kids are significantly struggling. I work to keep making decisions to support those kids and make sure they are successful too. I was the kind of student who loved being a teacher’s assistant. That showed me how a role could be so much more impactful if there was peer to peer support, kids listen so much better to other kids. It would be so great to really build up the capacity to support and be a resource to one another.”
For most students, being the principal is a mysterious job, I’m not sure many of us don’t really know what principals do day to day. Ms. Curry explained how her typical workday is bursting with emails. However, she only likes to answer them before or after school, so that during the school day she can spend her time making students her top priority. Being a principal consists of walking around campus, checking in on classes, and meeting with a wide variety of different administrators at a district office level. “You need to be somewhat of a social butterfly,” Ms. Curry remarked. The principal helps choose different programs and curriculums for the school, and get funding. Ms. Curry explained how her number one goal is to be present in the student body, and be an advocate for our school so we can get the resources we need. “I’m not the bad guy, I’m here to make your school experience as positive and enriching as possible.”
Although things are looking better each day, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. LA Unified has just put in place a mandate for students of age to get vaccinated in order to go to school. So will our school district require vaccines? Although as of right now the school board can’t force families to get vaccinated, Ms. Curry along with all of the SB Unified staff highly encourages it. Administrators are hoping to start regular testing exclusively on kids who are not vaccinated. In the midst of this new delta variant, many of us are wondering if there is a possibility we will go back to school online again. Ms. Curry stated although we can’t 100% rule out the possibility, the school board’s number one goal is keeping kids in school. This means continuing to have students wear their masks, scanning kids into school every morning, and encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. If the delta variant did escalate, the school would have to resort to social distancing again.
Thank you so much Ms. Curry for allowing me to interview you. Everyone at Santa Barbara Junior High is ecstatic to have you here, I can’t wait to get to know you even better as the school year progresses!