From the desk of Dr. Tuin, THS Principal

September 3, 2021

There is a 1970 Beatles song, “Long and Windy Road.” This felt like a long and windy week, as we hosted several evening events and my conversations winded in some interesting places. One thing I appreciate about high school is the complex and interesting nature of the work. I also value the opportunities to interact outside the confines of the more structured school day.

Monday night was our Superboosters meeting hosted by our AP, Michele Boudreaux. There are so many aspects to making sure we are in compliance with laws and district guidelines, and I appreciate the organization and thought put into leading this group which represents so many groups in our school. There were 20 parents who attended the meeting as representatives of various booster groups. It hints at the expansive number of parents involved in our school through one of these booster groups.

Tuesday night was our ELAC meeting. While this is a required school meeting, I appreciated how our AP, Ryon Tanara, made this an inviting event for our parents whose children are often still learning English. With the help of Olga Reardon as a translator, parents were invited to share their thoughts and perspectives. It was so encouraging to hear their interest in helping and supporting our students and school.

Not too many hours later, we held our monthly Leadership meeting on Wednesday morning. This is a time when admin and teachers come together to consider our school goals and efforts towards growing and learning as a team. The focus this year is on growing our EL students, maximizing interventions and implementing restorative practices. There was some honest and courageous conversation among our team, and I appreciated the space to wind around some uncomfortable conversations with the intent of figuring out how to grow and improve as a school.

Then later that night, we hosted our Back to School Night. Parents and some students came to meet teachers. It started with a food truck and an outside gathering. It was followed by performances from our Jazz Band, Cheer Team and Dance Team, articulately emceed by Chris Espino, our ASB President. It was great to be together as a school community in a more relaxed setting and celebrating our students. After the program part of the evening, parents wound around the school meeting teachers in a relaxed format without the bells. Parents shared their appreciation for the opportunity to meet teachers in a more relaxed atmosphere.

While I engaged in several conversations throughout the week with students and adults, there were two that stuck out for me. As I wound around the school observing classrooms, I

heard a large noise emanating from the Music Tech room. I opened the door to investigate, and I realized a student was playing on a drum set. I knew it had to be students jamming in the room dedicated to such activity. When I came to the secluded room in the back of “Mr. N’s room”, I found a boy playing the drums. Some other students stood and sat with guitars in hand, strumming and creating their own music in hopes of contributing to the general sound. One boy was intently focused on what to do with the guitar in his hand. It wasn’t a student I would have associated with being interested in creating music, so I was intrigued. I ended up sitting down with him and investing 10 minutes or so in an impromptu guitar lesson on how to play a C chord. It was the longest and most connected conversation I have had with this senior in his four years of high school. I was so appreciative that we offer such a class and opportunity for our students.

Not long after that conversation, the teacher invited me to listen to a piece a student created on his own. Again, it was not a student who I would have associated with music or even creative expression. I knelt down and listened as the boy fumble with his phone to play his song. There was rhythm, music woven together. I was already impressed. However, I was not prepared for what followed. Out of the music and rhythm rose a rapping voice elegantly expressing a flurry of deep thoughts and reflections. His voice was strong and direct, naming so many of his trials, challenges and sources of pride. His words were raw and beautifully crafted at the same time. I asked the student if the voice was his, and he acknowledged it was. When the song ended some three or four minutes later, I shared with the student the impact of listening to what was an expression of his soul. I think we made a connection in that brief moment. It was a reminder again, that in all the focus on academics, connecting with each other is foundational.

While the road this week was long and windy, it was also authentic and powerful. We have amazing people here at Tustin High School. I appreciate working with a team of adults who want what is best for students and understand the power of connecting with students. I am grateful for a school community that allows for students to express themselves in so many ways, from a dance floor to a sound room to an athletic arena. It is great to be at Tustin, and it is great to be a Tiller!

Go Tillers!

Dr. Jon Tuin

Tustin High School Principal