Story by Linda Yun
SPUSD announced the hire of new SPHS Assistant Principal Vanessa Blackwood in an email on Thursday, July 28. Blackwood began her term as Assistant Principal on Monday, Aug. 1 after the retirement of former Assistant Principal Janet Wichman in July.
Blackwood earned a Bachelor’s degree in French from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Concordia University.
The incoming new Assistant Principal served as an educator at Crescenta Valley High School for 16 years, teaching French for 15. She also served as the advisor of the student French Club and worked alongside the World Language Curriculum Study Committee.
Blackwood’s experience in Education administration includes working with the Instructional Leadership Team and administrators on master scheduling and hiring. As a teacher on special assignment, she created restorative practices and a Wellness Center within her school. Through the center and her training, Blackwood fostered professional development opportunities for teachers and formed connections with students.
“Restorative practices have taught me a different way to communicate, where we [resolve conflicts] [by] coming from [the place of] why,” Blackwood said.
The new Assistant Principal hopes to continue SPHS’s long-standing history of academic and curricular excellence with an emphasis on student wellness.
“I care deeply about the students and their success. When they leave high school, I want to know that they are prepared for real life, especially in their social-emotional [learning],” Blackwood said, “I want to know that they can regulate themselves and how to deal with high-pressure situations…I want them to know that even in school, someone cared about them.”
Blackwood has built a community between students, parents, and staff by hosting parent leadership meetings in the Wellness Center. She has also helped teachers create activities focused on social-emotional learning.
“[SPUSD] is an amazing school district,” said Blackwood, “and [SPHS] is very high-achieving. There are a lot of extracurricular activities…which I love and want to support. I also recognize that they are trying to take steps in student wellness, which is where I really want to focus my time.”
Blackwood will make the transition to Assistant Principal as the 2022-2023 school year begins on Thursday, Aug. 11.