EDITORíS DESK: Educational transplanting
Signs of summer are all over the Westside: Hot days, outdoor concerts, the Farmers Market, Rock Ledge Ranch, trips to the hardware store, weeds in my yard... whoops.
Another sign, of course, is the end of school. And this year, as discussed in our article on Page 1, that means the end of the Bijou School on the Westside after 12 years, as well as the tenure of Coronado Principal David Engstrom after only three (eight if his assistant principal years are counted). As an alternative high school, Bijou often seemed rought-cut on first glance, but ample evidence could be found below the surface of problem kids finding a positive inner purpose (although maybe not an academic pinnacle), thanks to steady guidance and "tough love" from staff and administrators. As for David, the situation was as close to love as can be found in public education. He loved Coronado, and the school seemed to love him back. In another era with District 11 - take for example the 30-year saga of Brenda LeBrasse (15 as principal) at Holmes Middle School or Anne Dancy's recently completed 21 years at the helm of Jackson Elementary - Engstrom would have worked at Coronado till he retired, with graduates looking forward to sending their own kids to his school. Unfortunately, the current educational trend (at least as directed by Superintendent Nick Gledich) is to move administrators around. I have yet to hear it explained succintly by anyone in the District 11 office (maybe they need to take one of their own English classes) or even truly debated, but the argument seems to be that without fresh challenges at new locales, school administrators will go stale. Gosh, why does that me think of another principal, Terry Martinez of West Elementary? All he did, two weeks before being reassigned, was help organize the biggest St. Baldrick's benefit by a public school in the region and have his own head shaved. Stale, my foot.
But I might as well complain about the weather. The changes are here, whether I/we like it or not: a new school at Whittier and new principals for West and Coronado that we might come to adore. I just can't help a bit of anxiety. It's like my yard - it's nice to have new growth. But how much of it will come up as weeds?