As South City parents and students dive into the 2012-2013 school year, Patch is publishing a series of interviews with the district's new hires.
See Patch's interviews with El Camino High's new principal, , a new counselor at SSF High, a new physical education teacher, , social science teacher , El Camino High's assistant principal, , and Spruce Elementary's new principal, .
Here Patch learns more about Los Cerritos Elementary School's new principal, Kennelyn Celeste.
Where are you from?
I am originally from the Philippines and immigrated to the United States when I was 5 years old. My father, a US Navyman, had previously settled in San Jose where I first started school and first started learning English. At age 8 my family moved to Sacramento where I spent most of my childhood and early adulthood. My first credentialed teaching job was in the same district where I started school in San Jose! I've lived in San Jose for the last 8 years and I plan on commuting to South City until my husband and I relocate closer to the Peninsula. I don't mind the 280 drive, it's quite breathtaking and I appreciate the "downtime" drive after a long day.
What's your background in education? Be sure to include where you were most recently.
I first started teaching when I was in high school. I taught Sunday School kindergarten and found my calling! In college I worked as an afterschool childcare teacher and volunteered and substituted at local elementary schools. After I received my teaching credential, I taught kindergarten, first grade, fifth grade and eighth grade math and science. I was also an English Learner Resource Specialist for a couple of years before I received my administrative credential. Prior to coming to South City, I was a vice principal for two years and a principal for two years in the East Bay.
What excites you about working in South City or SSF High in particular?
What excites me about working in South City is how welcoming, professional and student-centered everyone has been. The district has supported my transition and has communicated a strong vision and specific goals for student success. The Los Cerritos staff has been very helpful in getting the classrooms ready and preparing for students' first day of school. I am impressed with Los Cerritos's reputation for academic excellence and I am empowered to continue to ignite the collaborative spirit of the Los Cerritos teachers as we work towards refining our instructional signature practices.
What are the best and toughest parts of your job?
The best part about being a principal is leading and building positive relationships with students, parents and staff. I take pride in supporting students to reach their academic potential, in empowering the parent community to advocate for their children and being a resource for my staff to continually and professionally grow as educators. The toughest part is getting there...dealing with institutionalized inequities, educational cynicism and of course, limited school funding. But regardless of how dire the circumstances, positivity, passion, creativity and collaboration are the only tools I (and we) need to ensure that we make the best decisions for our students.
Are there any events, deadlines, or programs you want to remind students or parents about?
We will be having our Back to School Night and PTA Elections on Thursday, August 30 from 5:30-7:00. During my Principal's Message from 5:30-6:00 I will be discussing my vision for student success including increasing our attendance rate (which is directly correlated to student achievement) and parent involvement! Hope to see you there!