Central welcomes returning principals

The assembly on the first day of school was hot. Returning sophomores and upperclassmen found seats in their respective bleachers, and nervous freshman scrambled to find their friends. But the students weren’t the only ones anxious about the new school year.

“We were a part of the decision to have the speaker on the first day of school,” said Tom Paulsen, co-principal. “We were a little nervous. It’s the first day of school, [the students] haven’t even gone to class yet. It’s hot.”

After the Skate for Change presentation, students filed out of the gym to begin their first day of school, and the principals began their first day as returning interim principals.

Both Paulsen and Frank Kesman, co-principal, worked here as interim principals four years ago. Each principal can only work 100 days a year, so there needs to be two to cover an entire school year.

One improvement that the principals want to bring to Central this year is a program called SEL, or social emotional learning.

“It’s a way of thinking about working with students in a way that helps them make their life more manageable in a sense,” Kesman said. “The competitive level of this high school is so intense that there are things that we need to be focusing on beyond an A in a weighted class.”

The idea behind SEL is to help students focus not only on their studies and grades, but also on their well-being.

“The achievements and the striving to excel and so forth are going to continue,” Paulsen said, “Within that though, we need to think of the whole student; not just the achievement part.”

“So yes, the academic excellence is important, and this school certainly excels at that, but there needs to be a balance in life that is important,” Kesman said. “We heard teachers talking about ways that they can make their classrooms more manageable for their students, and I think that’s critical.”

And this is one of the reasons why both Paulsen and Kesman were so pleased with their selection to have Mike Smith speak on the first day of school.

“[Mike Smith] hit the nail on the head when he talked about and asked the question, ‘What do you want to be remembered for?’” Paulsen said, “Impacting the lives of other people are the things that last, and should be remembered for. And I think that’s indicative of what this school is trying to do. To have that kind of focus.”

This is something that both Paulsen and Kesman want to see improve in their time as interim principals here. They also want to determine the candidate for next year’s principal.

“We were very involved in the selection of Mr. McGrory four years ago,” Paulsen said, “We’re hoping we can find the same quality person, but one who might be here a little longer.”