Interview and story by Jacob Miranda
On September 10th, our new principal, Dr. Jennifer Padilla, allowed me to interview her as a way for us to better understand her goals at this school. During the interview, she was very proud of us and what we have accomplished while she was away. Nevertheless, she wants everyone to succeed, and wants to let everyone know that no matter what, her door is always open. She allowed me to record the conversation, and the full Q and A is below:
Q1: Where did you go to High School and College? What type of degree(s) did you get?
A: I went to Victor Valley High School, and I graduated in 1996. I got my AA degree at Victor Valley Community College, and then I transferred to Cal State San Bernardino, where I got my Bachelor’s degree in language arts. I got my credential and masters degree with Chapman University and then my doctorate from Pepperdine University.
Q2: What did you originally plan to do as a career? When did you realize you wanted to work in education?
A: I decided on teaching kind of on a whim. I remember being in my high school counselor’s office and them asking me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and I thought, “I don’t know… I like language arts, I like theater and drama, maybe I’ll be a teacher.” And at that time we didn’t have a lot of access like you all do now with, you know, the internet and being able to really research a career. I think I decided based on what I knew, and that was school. I’d been in school, so I decided really early, at like age 17, that I wanted to be an English teacher and I just did that.
Q3: I heard that you were here at Glenn before as the interim principal. Where did you work before that? And what did you do after that before returning?
A: I taught for about ten years before I came to NLMUSD. Then as an administrator, I started at Norwalk High School as the “Dean of Students” for a couple of years. Then I was promoted to assistant principal over here at Glenn. I was here for five years as assistant principal and then the principal took another job [during the second semester], and that’s how I became the interim principal for a few months before I moved on to be a middle school principal in another school district for a while. I did a few other things, but I came back home!
Q4: What do you plan to do differently compared to when you were here five years ago? What do you plan to keep the same?
A: I feel like some things have stayed the same but so much has changed since I was here last that I don’t know that I can fully answer them now. Unfortunately, I do know that Glenn has always had a lot of people in the community and surrounding areas have really this negative perception of Glenn. I’ve heard it from parents and community people, like “Oh, that school.” But I know and the people who are here know that that’s not true; we know that Glenn is a great place. There’s a lot of great things going on here. I think that one of my biggest goals is to help the community and the people who don’t know to better understand that it’s a good place and we have a lot of great things happening for students. I would say that’s my biggest goal.
Q5: What do you believe is your favorite part of Glenn?
A: The people. I was telling someone the other day that I didn’t realize how much I missed the students and teachers here. I had an opportunity to go and experience and explore other districts and there’s something really special that feels like a family here at Glenn. There are wonderful things about academics and we have some great programs and academies but it’s definitely the students and staff that I enjoy the most.
Q6: What is your average, non-principal life like? Do you have any pets, children?
A: I have my husband and my three little girls that are 7, 6, and 5. So, I’m very busy being a mom when I’m not here. I would say that most of my off time is doing that. You know, you have all those mom things that have to be done, right? They are my world, outside of work, for sure.
Q7: If you could give the students one piece of advice (life, school, etc.), what would you say?
A: You can either work hard now or work hard later. Don’t be afraid and set goals for yourself. Everything you do on a day-to-day basis should be working towards reaching those goals. So, if your goal is to graduate high school, then every action you take should help you with that. Focus on those things, but have fun, keep a balance. Enjoy being a teenager, but definitely keep focus, and it will happen.
(Dr. Padilla hard at work in the principal’s office. photo by Jacob Miranda)