By Dr. Tuin, Tustin High Principal

February 25, 2022

This was an important week for Tustin High School. We implemented some adjustments to our daily routine to ensure a calm and productive environment. It was interesting to both participate in leading these changes, and also observe the results and impact.

We started Tuesday morning by making sure hats and skateboards were not present on campus, and it was impressive to see how well students responded. Adults were united in setting the expectation, and students generally seemed to understand the purpose.

One of the larger changes resulted in two different snack periods. This is the one that probably frustrated students most as they were only able to eat snacks with basically half their friend group. For others, the extra room on campus and shorter snack lines were worth it. Before last week, we averaged serving about 750 students a day during snack. This week, it was more like 1,200. If nothing else, 450 more students ate breakfast this week.

One of the other adjustments was the 5 minute passing period. The shorter time meant there was little time to stand by idly. The shorter time required a more focused route to class. There definitely were fewer students outside of class at the final bell. (That doesn’t count zero and 1st period, that is a completely different dynamic we still need to address.) On Tuesday and Thursday, we conducted tardy sweeps at the beginning of two periods. On the first day, there were about 70 students brought to the cafeteria to meet with a counselor, social worker, or admin. I myself met with several students and it was a needed conversation for each student. Looking back at all the students with whom I met, there was only one who was new to being late to class. For all the others, the time to sit and address tardies and their progress in classes were important. We will continue the sweeps for the next few weeks for sure. It isn’t about “catching students” making bad choices, it is about intervening and helping them make better choices.

My most impactful conversation this week occurred with 9 student leaders who met with me to dialog about the changes. It was amazing to listen to them and hear their perspective and insight. The students with whom I spoke make good choices day after day, which explains the many options they have moving forward. However, they were keenly aware of dynamics among student groups and how teachers treat students. They were appreciative of the teachers who share genuine care and compassion for students, and also honest about what it feels like or looks like when that isn’t as evident. They didn’t like the changes, but understood the intent and advocated for all students.

Among all our students, one young lady, Destiny Huerta, represented T-Town this week at the California State Wrestling Tournament. I greeted her and her mother on their way out the door to attend the tournament. It is an amazing accomplishment to be part of the tournament, and I made sure she and her mother knew how proud we are of her. Destiny’s hard work over the years paid off, and this weekend, she will have the privilege of being challenged and pushed to her fullest.

In all the activity of this week, it was special to pause and listen to our Tiller Band and Orchestra perform last night. In the last couple of years, it feels like these opportunities have been more rare, but last night was a full on concert. Our Tiller students shared the spotlight with middle school students, many of whom will soon be Tillers. I enjoyed watching our individual students intently work to create the overall sound. It was a beautiful picture of what can happen when everyone is working together. For me this week, I made the connection to our school as a whole. This was a week were if felt in particular like everyone was working together for the same cause, making sure our students are on a path to success and making good choices.

It was a tiring week in some respects, but a great week to be a Tiller. Go Tillers!

Dr. Jon Tuin

Tustin High School Principal