El Estoque

MVHS’ new assistant principal

Karen Sanchez

The smell of burgers can not be ignored; the pungent fragrance reaches the nose as it snakes its way from one end of the queue to the other. Students walk swiftly in pairs of two, sometimes in bundles of three or four, towards the line growing quickly outside of the cafeteria.

Overlooking the scene is none other than former Biology and AP Environmental Science teacher Andrew Goldenkranz, who is now beginning his first year as MVHS’ new assistant principal.

With a walkie talkie in hand, he parades past the tables in the cafeteria, walks through the lunch line and makes his way back to what seems like the Times Square of MV, the rally court.

Just 10 minutes into lunch, a loud scream rings through the cafeteria behind him. The altered pitch cuts through the air sharply, but as soon as it begins, the piercing sound stops. Heads turn, Goldenkranz included, in search of the throat that could possibly let out such howl.

Hurriedly, he walks towards the cafeteria and pinpoints the origin of the scream by approaching random blobs of students. He talks to them, nodding his head up and down while a group of short boys look up at him with blank stares, probably receiving a small lecture.

Soon enough, he walks back to the center of the rally court, with a small smile on his face, obviously amused by the situation.

For Goldenkranz, having this kind of sense of humor is a nice plus when things get hectic, a way to get through the day while trying to focus on the positive.

And since the start of school, Goldenkranz admits that things have gotten a bit busy.

From coordinating interventions with students who are struggling academically to working with student advocates to ensuring that the college application process is going smoothly for seniors, everyday is filled with new tasks for Goldenkranz. While teachers tend to have more control over their day and are able to plan out their lessons, Goldenkranz will sometimes come into work thinking of accomplishing a certain task but then be sidetracked by a completely new, different problem once he’s arrived.

Being in administration means tackling two main things: solving problems so that teachers and students can function properly in an academic environment and taking care of the infrastructure aspect like making sure the buildings, machinery and bathrooms are functioning the way they’re suppose to.

Although this is Goldenkranz’s first year on the job, he has had past experience in administrative roles from leading the science department, becoming the principal of summer school for three years, and being the coordinator for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, an organization responsible for the accreditation of public and private universities and high schools such as MVHS.

And this year, he was ready to make the job transition, both personally and professionally.

His kids have grown up, shifting his family situation just enough to leave Goldenkranz some room to dedicate himself to the job. Having worked as a teacher for so many years further prepared him for his new role. As he became more involved in the big picture rather than keeping to a single classroom, he found clear similarities between being a teacher and being an administrator.

Both teachers and administrators work with students and families, however their roles differ in that instead of teaching a specific course, an administrator walks a family through the process of solving an issue, be it enrolling into a school or solving a dispute among students.

It’s been pretty much what I envisioned,” Goldenkranz said. “I have mad respect for the rest of the people on the staff and what I’m really gratified by is my colleagues as teachers are still my colleagues.”

While his job in administration has similarities to teaching, there are still things he’ll miss about being a teacher.

“I love teaching life science so whether it was environmental science where we work on climate change, and pollution and other critical areas of what’s going on in our world, that was really exciting for me. And then biology, thinking about evolution and genetics and just kind of seeing 9th graders when they are first coming in, I love that, I love seeing that so I miss that and I miss the classroom but what I like, for example these past 2 days I’ve probably gone into 50 classrooms just to do some quick walk-thoughts and see what was going on and so the opportunity to just get out and about and to see the campus as a whole, as opposed to seeing one lil angle of it is really exciting.”

As assistant principal, Goldenkranz has a few things in mind he wants to work on. For one, the next month of school means the early round of admissions for college, a time extremely important to students and their families—  a process which needs administration’s full attention. Another would be supporting the students while they’re enduring difficult moments.

“I always feel like when students are having a hard time, there’s two things, do we catch it early enough and second can we unpack what’s an academically rooted issue versus what’s a social, emotional issue and i think doing a better job of diagnosing that and early interventions will be really important for us to be able to do a better job of supporting to try to solve problems.”

Goldenkranz would like to continue creating time to just get out on the campus and visit classrooms. By doing so, he hopes to be able to solve any problem thrown his way with some prior experience in his backpocket; to Goldenkranz, having primary evidence is important, much better than basing your actions off of what you hear, especially when it comes to progress in terms of MVHS culture.

“Kind of a big thing for me is who is in and who’s out, who’s included and who’s excluded, thats a classroom culture and it’s also a campus culture and given the crazy world we’re living in right now, it’s really important that we be attentive to that so I think if we are as intentional about social issues and about just personal issues for students and cultural issues, if were attentive to that, as attentive to that as we are about our AP scores, then this school will be really crushing it. If we just deal with that as an afterthought then it will never be where we want it to be.”