Saturday, August 8

Meet Michael Jimenez, the new principal

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Principal of seven years, David Grissom, will be replaced by Michael Jimenez starting July 1.

Jimenez will leave his position at Mount Diablo Unified School District where he was Associate Superintendent for Secondary Schools. Previously, Jimenez has worked as a teacher of physical education, AVID instructor, a vice principal at all levels, and a high school principal.

Jimenez will start as principal during the COVID-19 pandemic, a period he said is “new for everyone.”

“I’m not here to change the plan [the district]comes up with,” Jimenez said. “Right now, all I want to do is support the staff, support the students, and support the parents through this, because it’s going to be a learning process for all of us.”

Jimenez also noted the importance of going beyond providing “sound instruction” to connect with students.

“We can provide more activities through distance learning for kids to become involved in, whether it’s clubs, productions for drama, or choir, or band,” Jimenez said. “School and work is the major part of it, but you have to make it a little bit fun for kids.”

According to Jimenez, he has a hands-on managerial style, and enjoys working directly with teachers and students. Now that he will not be able to be “in the classroom”, Jimenez said he needs to find other ways to support teachers.

Jimenez (second from right) at an awards ceremony. Image courtesy of Jiminez.

“One of the things I’m going to look into is researching some of the most effective lessons that are done online,” Jimenez said. “Then, we can help our teachers build programs like those.”

Associate Superintendent of Personnel Services Leyla Benson said that there was, “something soothing about knowing that somebody with a wealth of experience is going to come in.”

“Having dealt with a myriad of challenging situations in your professional history really allows you to have that toolkit to know how to address things, make people feel comfortable, and make connections with students,” Benson said.

Superintendent Nellie Meyer said that Jimenez’s experience, as well as his interest in working with students, made him stand out as a candidate.

“Many describe him as accessible,” Meyer said. “He is one that staff, parents, and students can come up to and certainly ask questions to and engage with.”

Benson said the same.

“Something special about MVLA is that we are able to attract highly qualified candidates who are interested in coming to work for our district,” Benson said.

Benson also said that Jimenez was, “well versed in many of our programs,” such as AVID.

“[He has] direct knowledge of numerous programs that are the capstone of our educational experience,” Benson said.

Jimenez has previously worked with current MVLA Superintendent Nellie Meyer in San Diego Unified School District and MDUSD.

The two met at SDUSD where Meyer hired Jimenez as Principal of Serra High School. A few years later, when Meyer had moved to MDUSD as superintendent, she hired him there.

Then, at the beginning of spring, Jimenez reached out to Meyer, seeking a change of locations once again.

“There’s a lot of good people [at MDUSD]and I really enjoyed working with them,” Jimenez said. “But they’re moving in a direction that I didn’t see myself fitting in.”

Meyer told Jimenez that there was a potential opening in the MVLA district—principal of MVHS.

Jimenez said that one of the draws of working in the district was Meyers’ leadership style.

Jimenez (second from right) at an awards ceremony. Image courtesy of Jiminez.

“She’s a collaborative person,” Jimenez said. “She doesn’t believe in top-down management. She’s an honest person. She gets a lot of respect, not because she commands it, but because she earns it in the way she leads.”

Jimenez also cited the school’s academics as a draw.

“I started looking on the MVLA district website,” Jimenez said. “It was very impressive. There a couple things about the way teachers work, in terms of grading, curriculum, and instruction, that attracted me.”

At MDUSD, Jimenez was initially hired as a Director of Secondary Schools, where he was hired to work with high school programs and support Next Generation Science Standards efforts. According to Meyer, Jimenez will be interested in boosting STEM programs at MVHS as well.

“He really enjoyed working with science teachers (at MDUSD), and he certainly worked with campuses that had strong robotics programs,” Meyer said. “But not as strong as Mountain View High School’s robotics program.”

Jimenez said that, when he was talking with the school board, he learned that although the school has rigorous academic programs, there is a gap between AP and regular students.

“I’d like to work with teachers to find out what we can do to fill that gap,”Jimenez said.

Jimenez said that he’s also interested in looking into creating new types of learning programs in the future, post-COVID-19.

Jimenez said that although there are some struggles with distance learning, he’s finding that several students are doing well with it. He said that this realization has prompted him to think about creating new, non-traditional learning programs for students in the future.

“We could design a program where you have the opportunity to do traditional learning, some independent online study where you meet with your teacher once a week, or a hybrid of the two,”Jimenez said.

Jimenez said that he recognizes that Grissom has built a “really good climate” for students, staff, and parents, and that he hopes to maintain and build upon it.

“You’re going to get a person who’s honest,” Jimenez said. “I try to build working relationships, and I try to collaborate with people… It’s about working with people, not above people.”

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Akhand Dugar

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