I interviewed the new Vice Principal!

Written By: Gavin Abandonato

Mr. Shaw is the new vice principal here at CPM. He’s a nice guy with a lot of important duties around the school. I interviewed him to learn more about his job and his background. Here’s what I asked him;

Me: “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?”

Mr. Shaw: “Dude I’m 56 there’s a lot to tell, could you narrow that down a little?”

We both laughed at that.

Me: “What were you doing before you came to CPM?”

Mr. Shaw: “That’s an easy one. I spent 10 years teaching history and AP government at Lynwood High School. Then I spent about 15-16 years at Meadowdale High School teaching social studies. And prior to that, I was at Garfield High School for about a year in Seattle.”

Me: “What made you want to be a Vice Principal here at CPM?”

Mr. Shaw:” I’ve been thinking about being an Assistant Principal for a long long time. And over the years, I grew more and more interested in wanting to become an AP because I was much more interested in the issues and the problems and the work that an Assistant principal does, especially including the student discipline, and the reason I love student discipline is that when I was a student, I spent more time in the principal’s office than in the classroom. So I know student discipline as both a customer and as the person giving it. So I’m very sympathetic with those kids.”

“This school has a reputation as being the greatest middle school in the school district. So I got a call from Mr. Figueroa in December and he asked me for help since he knew I had AP certifications. Just like how teachers get certificates? It’s the same thing with principals and APs. So he gave me a call asking if I’d like to be an assistant principal and let me tell you I just jumped at the chance. And it feels like I’ve landed in paradise, to be honest.” 

Me:” I have a two-part question for you here. What are your duties, and how do they differ from the dean of students?”

Mr. Shaw: “Awesome question. My duties are doing anything from supervising, not running it but supervising ASB, supervising athletics, I’m in charge of evaluating loosely about half the teachers in the school. I’m in charge of emergency procedures so the fire drill today and stuff like that. So all of that is unique to the Assistant Principal. One thing that Mr. Jaimes and I share is the student discipline piece. I’m gonna tell you that there is no dean of students like Mr. James. He does more and is better at it than any other dean of students in the whole district. So your question is really smart because he has taken on some extra responsibilities. So my hope is to ultimately lighten his load a little bit as I am still learning the job and stuff like that.”

Me: “And I heard that you’re only staying here until the end of this semester right?”

Mr. Shaw: “Yeah let me speak on that. So I’ve been hired as an Interim Assistant Principal. That means that I’m here only for this semester. Which is common.  Normally what will happen is in the spring, and they’ll probably do this, is they’ll open up the job for anyone. Including myself. So if I like College Place and I like the job I will be applying for the job I just had.”

Me: “So do you see yourself applying for this job in the future in the spring when it opens up?”

Mr. Shaw: ”It depends on how this interview goes.”

We both laughed at that again. One thing I like about Mr. Shaw is that he definitely has a sense of humor. 

Mr. Shaw: “ No pressure. Yes! Yes, I do.”

Me: “And hypothetically if that wasn’t to work out and you didn’t reapply here, where do you see yourself going?”

Mr. Shaw: “That’s an easy question. If I’m not here next year, my spot is at Lynwood High School, they save that for me. So I could go back into the classroom and continue torturing high school students.”

Me: “So when did you say you started your teaching career?”

Mr. Shaw: “I started subbing in ‘92, my year at Garfield was ‘93, and then I started full time in Meadowdale in ‘94. Which gives me official geezer status. I am older than dirt.”

Me: “Hey, you said it not me.”

Mr. Shaw: “Word. Hey, you gotta own your own stuff, y’know?”

Me: “Did you know that you were gonna be working in academics and teaching from a young age, or when did you know you were gonna teach?”

Mr. Shaw: “I had no idea what I wanted to do as a kid. I think schools pressure kids into planning into the future, like Naviance? What do you wanna do? What’s your plan? What’s your high school beyond plan? And I don’t like that! But at the same time, we as kids we wanna know what we want to do, but at the same time, when we’re young, we don’t know what we wanna do. I went all through high school, I didn’t know what I wanna do. I went all through college, still didn’t know what I wanna do. I was a year out of college waiting tables, sitting on the beach, I’m from Charleston South Carolina by the way. And I love history. So I went into teaching not because I love kids, but because I love history. So I saw teaching as a way to learn and grow my understanding of the past. And only then when I was in school teaching did I realize, teenagers are cool. School is fun. So my philosophy of the school is, let’s learn, and let’s have fun.”

Me: “What did you take in college?”

Mr. Shaw: “I majored in history, then I got a graduate (degree) in teaching and education in history.”

Me:” So I’m sure you’ve heard of all the kids fighting in school like it’s almost every other day there’s a fight. What are your viewpoints on that?”

Mr. Shaw: ”it makes me cry on the inside, I’ve taught at schools that have wrestled with this fighting issue before. It can be solved. I don’t have a magic bullet to fix this whole issue, but what I do believe what we should do instead of trying to make it bomb-proof perfect but to begin to fix it is to go to a deeper level of school culture. So what are the values of our community, what are we about as a school? And if we’re all about y’know, ‘I get mine and I’m good to go,’ that’s not a good community. In the context of how Dr. King would use the word, ‘love.’ not romantic love, but the love of self, in the same way, we love our parents (maybe), so to let us love our school, really what I mean is respect, kindness, all these ideas that come out of Character Strong, I’m a huge passionate supporter of character strengths. Big time. These are ideas that may seem kinda stupid, but they make you a better person, they make us a better school. So how to address the fighting? I don’t know. We’ll come up with some nuts and bolts ideas but on a deeper level what I wanna look at is, how can we make our school a better place for all kids, because I think some of the kids feel left out. Some kids feel discriminated against, what have you. But I think if we work in a school atmosphere we can ameliorate some of the fightings.”