From the desk of Dr. Tuin, THS Principal

September 24, 2021

I know we live in Southern California and hot weather should not be a big deal, but it felt like it was this week. Part of the issue was a fire drill occurring on one of the hottest days. Fortunately, we made quick work of it and we only had to be outside for 15 minutes. Such drills are necessary and important. I was proud of our staff and students for cooperating and moving with a purpose.

Speaking of drills and Wednesday, the Physics team brought in a special speaker from the police department to speak to students about earthquake readiness. Their current unit of study is on Earthquakes and the physics involved. Students have learned about energy forces and the impact an Earthquake has on the community. They learned why the impact is so great and what to do in the event there is one. I appreciate how the Physics team has worked hard to make the content relevant and easier for students to make connections.

This week was busy for me, and I ended up locked into important conversations with students, sometimes around bad choices. It was a good reminder that every student has a story and unique situation. Even as I was assigning a consequence for a poor choice, I found ways to make connections and turn the situation into a learning opportunity. With 2,100 students, there are bound to be conflicts and issues to work through. Wednesday in particular was a day that generated more of these conversations than usual.

What I appreciate about such conversations is the opportunity to learn more about our students, their struggles, their hopes, their fears and how they plan to move forward productively, not just from the conversation, but from high school. One of those conversations was

particularly interesting. When I went to look at the students' school information, I saw she had almost all A’s. I probed a little more and she revealed she was part of the foster youth program and had been moving from place to place for about the past 8 years. She had every reason to check out and not engage, and yet her grades showed otherwise. What I thought was going to be a conversation about how to do better (there was a little of that) was more about acknowledging her remarkable resilience and determination. I shared with her a book called, Breaking Night. The subtitle of the book says

something about going from homeless to Harvard. I saw the eyes of the girl in front of me light up when I shared about this woman’s success and ability to overcome. It reminded me that all our students want to be connected and productive. In some cases, they don’t know how, and there is a long journey ahead in figuring it out. For most students, they are finding their way through the opportunities and challenges that exist in high school. I am so grateful for administrators, counselors, social workers, psychologists, campus supervisors, custodians, secretaries, teacher assistants and teachers who understand our students. There are so many stories of students figuring it out and overcoming challenges. It is a tribute to everyone who plays a role in this journey, including the students. This was a week where I spent more time than usual in some difficult arenas, and I arose from the week so proud to be a Tiller!

Go Tillers!

Dr. Jon Tuin

Tustin High School Principal