From the desk of Dr. Tuin, THS Principal

December 20, 2021

Typically, I write my reflection on Friday morning. The activities and focus last week on ending the semester well just didn’t allow time on Friday. This weekly document is my Friday Reflection, but rather a Monday edition.

This past week reminded me of the importance of relational connections in doing our work. Finals week changes the dynamics anyway because it means the end of a semester. First semester finals week offers its own unique dynamic because it coincides with the holiday season. I saw many goodwill gestures towards one another amid the academic hustle. It was not an uncommon sight to see a student bringing a gift for another student, a teacher, or even a staff member. I also saw examples of teachers and staff reaching out to one another and students to offer a small token of gratitude. One of the highlights for me was traveling from classroom to classroom, offering coffee and a treat to teachers Friday morning. It provided me with an opportunity to say thank you. Our teachers work hard, and it was good to take a moment to recognize them.

Another highlight for me this week occurred at our monthly leadership meeting. We meet each month to strategize, glean input and share important information about our ongoing school efforts to grow our students. After our typical agenda items, we engaged in a “white elephant” gift exchange. During the 20 to 30 minutes that followed, we worked through a process to disseminate a diverse array of wrapped gifts. Interesting items appeared, and I appreciated the opportunity to relax and enjoy each other’s company. It has been a while since I have laughed so hard, and it felt good to be together in a space where the agenda took a back seat for a few moments.

There were also conversations this week with students where I could see relief in bringing the semester to an end. Collectively, this has been one of the most challenging semesters in education as everyone adjusted to life fully back in school. While the first couple of months seemed to include a rough transition for some, we developed more of a rhythm the past couple of months. Several students shared their pride and gratitude for stepping up to whatever challenges they faced this past semester. Gaining acceptance into a dream school was an important hill to climb for some. For others, significantly improving grades represented their challenge. Overall, we learned 410 grades changed this semester. (Students with an “I” or an “F” in previous semesters did the work necessary online to change their grade to a credit.) A significant number of students turned their trajectory back towards graduating. Study Skills teachers, ELDAS teachers, and many other teachers and counselors dedicated themselves to helping students get back on track. It was great to see students stepping up as well. But as incredible it was to see the academic improvement, it was even more impactful to see students viewing themselves as capable learners, understanding our team believes in them.

I am so proud of our teachers, staff, and students for all the work accomplished this semester. I am even more grateful for being part of a community that cares about students beyond academic achievement, one where relationships are valued, nurtured, and cultivated. It was a great semester to be a Tiller!

Go Tillers!

Dr. Jon Tuin

Tustin High School Principal