New Administration Focuses on Visibility, Fun and Improvements

Kathleen Raphael, a new assistant principal, comes to Pine Creek with experience as an administrator in neighboring districts. Some of the challenges the new administration faced were a larger than normal freshman class, a large turnover in administration, and building the culture and school spirit of Pine Creek. The administration faced the challenge of a larger student population in several ways. “We did have a larger group of students than last year. we created more sections of classes like math, English, science, and social studies. We created more electives we created an art class a music class, we created another French class, Spanish was booked out so we created a German class, another health class, PE class, and a guitar class,” said Raphael.

In addition to dealing with a larger student population, the administration faced challenges coming back from a year full of disrupted education due to COVID. Focusing on rebuilding relationships was an important part of their agenda.  “The whole administration is pretty new there are quite a few new people, the principal is new, I’m new, and the athletic director is new, so that really changes the dynamic of the leadership for the school. One of the things we really wanted to pay attention to were those connections so allowing people to reconnect and get back from covid and we wanted to connect the students as well. That culture thing is really important to us, and we really wanted big whole school assemblies at the beginning of the year and continuing to have those kinds of things. We’re really focusing on activities for students to do to get involved outside of academics. We are in the hallways in the morning as everyone’s coming to school and then after school as they are leaving. We’re really trying to be visible and accessible and available, so if students have issues they can come talk to us and they know who we are and what we stand for, and that it’s easy for kids to talk to us.”

In addition to being visible and accessible, Raphael said that having fun at school is important. “I think that one of the really important things and I know we’ve been focusing on, is just having fun in school too, making sure that there are fun things during the day, throughout the week, after school and on weekends, really just celebrating being together and learning together.”

Although Pine Creek has a reputation for excellence, there is always room for improvement. “I think that one of the things that needed improvement is the visibility of the leaders, knowing who they are and that they’re here for kids, and for staff too.  I think that was one thing that really needed some change. I think we need to look at some other opportunities to ensure that students have success. So we’re looking at what is required of freshmen coming in and how we can make things more available to freshmen and for upperclassmen as well. I think we’re also looking at some ways to really mentor and transition easily between middle school and high school, and to be really intentional about that. We are looking at things such as tech for ed and guided study hall that are required for freshmen and we will kind of re-tool that a little bit to really support freshmen in transition as opposed to what they are [getting] right now.” Overall, Raphael feels that Pine Creek is a great place for staff and students and is proud to be an eagle. “Pine Creek is a great school to work at and attend.”