Hart District’s newest principals celebrate start of school

New Saugus High School Vince Ferry stands near the Centurion statue on campus as students make their way to class on the Hart District's first day of classes for the 2017-2018 school year on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

As students in the William S. Hart Union High School District returned to school Thursday, three new principals also began their first official days at the helm of the district’s junior high and high schools.

The first day of school was an exciting one for Saugus High School Principal Vince Ferry, Arroyo Seco Junior High School Principal Andy Keyne and Rio Norte Junior High School Principal Audrey Asplund, who all got to their schools early to welcome new students and greet eager parents.

“I was very excited,” Asplund said.  “It was nice being out front and meeting some parents and seeing them interact with their kids.”

The story was the same for the all of the new principals, who spent their mornings introducing themselves, welcoming students, greeting staff and visiting classrooms.

Vince Ferry

At 6 a.m. Ferry was at Saugus High School getting ready for his first day with the high school’s students and staff.

“It’s exciting, especially seeing the freshman come in.  You know they’re nervous and they look at you like you’re the principal and you have this all down,” Ferry said.  “If they only knew that inside I’m just as nervous and just as anxious.”

During the morning, Ferry was standing outside campus, saying hello to students he met over the summer and helping new students navigate the campus.

“It’s a very pleasant student body.  The number of kids that have broken away from their circle to walk over to me and say hello is pretty cool,” he said.  “I appreciate them taking that time to do it.”

Throughout the first day Ferry planned to visit teachers’ classrooms and interact with students during brunch and lunch.

“We have five new teachers so I’m looking forward to getting into those classrooms and seeing how they’re doing today,” Ferry said.  “I also love brunch and lunch because of the energy… [I want] to get out and hop into their social circles and let them get to know me and let me get to know them and let them know I’m a normal human being and they can talk to me.”

Before his time at Saugus High School, Ferry was Rio Norte Junior High School’s principal for three years, a Hart District special education teacher for nine years, director of Valencia High School’s ASB program for four years and assistant principal of Valencia High School.

As principal he is looking forward to continuing the success of Saugus and becoming part of the school community.

“This is a great school, it really is,” Ferry said.  “Academically it’s a very high-performing school; the co-curricular and extra-curricular programs are outstanding.  As a staff we already had goals in place so now it’s a matter of supporting the goals and moving forward with them.”

Madison Joller, a senior at Saugus High School, leads a small dog toward the school’s office with a treat after the scared pooch showed up on campus for the school’s first day of classes in the 2017-2018 school year on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Andy Keyne

For Keyne, the first day of school felt like a homecoming to the junior high school he worked for as an assistant principal for three years, from 2003 to 2007.

“It’s a nice balance so I get to meet some new teachers and get to reconnect with some familiar faces,” Keyne said.

On Thursday, Keyne also arrived at Arroyo Seco early in the morning, ready to greet parents and students as they walked into their first day of classes.

“The anticipation builds all summer as we’re getting ready for the start of school, so it’s exciting to finally have the kids here and get classes started,” Keyne said.  “The parents also love to drop off their kids, it’s a nice morning.”

Keyne also had the opportunity to ease the nervousness of incoming seventh grade students and their parents.

“Most of the kids were very excited to be back at school, see their friends and start the new year,” he said.  “I think many of the parents have kids who have gone here before so I think there’s a strong sense of community.  With all of the natural nervousness of a new school and a new school year, I think there is a lot of trust and familiarity with the school that was built over the years.”

During the first day, Keyne said he was most looking forward to being in the classroom and interacting with the students.

“The most exciting thing for me is being in the classroom and seeing the teachers connect and interact with the kids and seeing the instruction that goes on,” he said.  “We’ve got such a great school.  I think the number one priority for me is to get to know the school culture and build relationships with the staff, students and the community at large.”

Audrey Asplund

On the first day of school, Asplund’s number one priority was making personal connections with students and making them feel welcomed on campus.

“For every kid who feels excited or really nervous, we want to be there for them, we want to help them grow,” Asplund said.  “It’s the first day in junior high school for a lot of them.  I want them to feel comfortable, I want them to feel like this is going to be a good year and that this is going to be a safe place for them.”

Early Thursday morning, Asplund was outside Rio Norte greeting students, speaking with parents and saying hello to those she met at registration.

“It’s exciting to be a part of it,” Asplund said.  “It’s exciting to know that, as a team, we’re working together to make sure our students have a positive experience at Rio Norte, that they feel excited about the year and feel ready for new beginnings and new challenges.”

During the school day, Asplund visited all of the teachers’ classrooms and interacted with students during the school’s brunch and lunch.

“I wanted to create a relaxed, comfortable, inviting environment so the kids feel like they can come up to me any time and talk to me,” she said.  “I want to make a personal connection so the kids feel that I’m not a scary person, that I’m approachable.”

This focus on personal connection and the needs of the whole child is something Asplund is hoping to continue throughout the school year with Rio Norte’s teachers and administration.

During the school’s professional development days, Asplund said the teachers spoke about the mission and vision of Rio Norte and why they teach.

“We spent a couple hours on the first day talking about what kind of teachers we want to be and what kind of community we want to have so that children thrive,” she said. “We’re here to make personal connections with kids; we’re here to help them grow socially as well as academically.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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