Ellis appointed interim assistant principal for second semester after Safine’s departure

January 29, 2020 — by Apurva Chakravarthy and Anouk Yeh

Following former assistant principal Brian Safine’s departure to his new role as head of human resources at the district office, P.E. and U.S. history teacher Rick Ellis has been appointed as an interim assistant principal to replace him for second semester. In the spring, the district will evaluate whether to open the position to other candidates for a permanent position.

In his new role, Ellis will not be able to teach; instead, Lucas Alonzo is currently acting as a substitute for the four P.E. classes that Ellis was in charge of. 

When the job opened up in December, Ellis said he wasn’t even sure that he wanted to apply. In June 2018, he completed his masters in education with an administrative credential, but only planned on going into administration later into his career.

Once he learned that there would be an open spot on the administration team, he was encouraged by colleagues to apply for the role. 

“The more I talked to them, the more I was like maybe I could offer the school something,” Ellis said.

Ellis also said that his 19 years of teaching here give him an advantage because he knows the school’s culture and personalities. He started as a World Geography and U.S. History teacher and later transitioned into being both a history and a P.E. teacher.

Even so, the switch to administration is one he is adjusting to daily. 

Ellis said that his new position, which he began Jan. 21, has required him to learn how to categorize different issues quickly and prioritize different projects. He said that the most challenging learning curve he has faced is learning how to administer different types of standardized tests.

“[Testing] a big thing, because I’ve been here so long, so  I am well aware of the high academic standards of this school. People are preparing for these tests and they want to do well, so the expectation is these tests run smoothly,” he said.

Despite the differences in positions, Ellis said the relationship that he developed with many students on campus is an invaluable asset that has proven useful.

“If I am working with students in a disciplinary role, I feel like I have a good rapport with students,” he said. “I know a lot of kids and parents on campus, so that definitely helps.”

In addition to his connection with the student body, Ellis said that his administration transition has also been made smoother by the guidance and administration team who have “helped a ton” in helping him adjust to his new role. 

Guidance secretary Kathy Sheridan said that Ellis has been quickly and successfully transitioning into his new role.

“Mr. Ellis has been doing great,” Sheridan said. “He’s eager to learn [and has been] reading materials and testing manuals on the weekend. He’s here early and staying late.” 

He said that his main priorities in his new role are to learn more about how to administer standardized testing, continue promoting the school’s extracurricular activities and help support the school’s vision.

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