Today I spent the morning at Joshua Circle Elementary School, part of the Hesperia Unified School District. I was invited by the principal Scott Sheffield to be the principal for the day. The program is conducted annually by HUSD to invite community members into the schools to learn more about the District and individual schools.
I was honored to have been asked and jumped at the opportunity to participate. Education is one of four core components of the Hesperia Chamber mission statement, so I saw this as an opportunity to gain insight into public education in Hesperia and develop new relationships with the local schools.
When I arrived on campus I had no idea what I was getting myself into for the day, but I knew it was only for a day and that I could survive that long at the very least. I was fortunate to have today on campus because there was a special presentation for veterans happening. Hundreds of children were seated outside in the “circle” waiting for the local veterans to arrive.
The first thing that caught my eye was how well-behaved all the children were while patiently waiting. It has been my experience in the past that elementary age kids are full of unbridled energy and find it challenging to sit still. Yet hundreds of them sat there as Principal Sheffield introduced me.
I can’t deny feeling a little warmth and pride when all those children greeting me with a “Good Morning!”
With my grand introduction out of the way I relaxed a little, and we began a tour of the campus. I grew up back east and because of the severe weather our schools were mostly single structures with multiple floors, so it is interesting to visit California campuses that are multiple structures with outdoor areas. Joshua Circle is one of the oldest facilities in the District, so there is a lot of history and dated buildings on campus.
Principal Sheffield has been there for just a few years, and his passion and energy to make the campus a great learning environment for the students is undeniable. Despite apparent challenges and limitations, his attitude remained positive throughout the visit. He refuses to allow those challenges to hold the school back. He strives to create a school that is the parents’ and students’ first choice school.
As we toured the campus teachers, staff, and students commented on the many improvements at the campus since his arrival. The library is one such improvement. A small building that has been completely transformed into an inviting reading center complete with technology that allows students to check out their own books.
The technology doesn’t stop there. Much of the conversation focused on the educational use of technology in the classrooms. Several students demonstrated their use of nook tablets in the classroom and explained how their textbooks are all electronic. It was evident that the use of technology has improved student engagement in their education. I was impressed to say the least. (And if you know me you know I am a tech geek, so that aspect was super interesting to me.)
Overall, my day as principal was educational and enlightening. I learned a lot more about the school district than I imagined I would and was incredibly impressed with the passion and dedication of the teachers, staff, and leadership at the school. My experience made me realize that HUSD isn’t just another school district, rather it is a district filled with passionate educators and leadership who are dedicated to the students and to each other as well. Their camaraderie creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. I am grateful for the opportunity to get an insider’s view of Joshua Circle and the great things happening there.