Once upon a time, there was a principal who showed tremendous interest in her students and their families. She was extremely caring and showed genuine compassion when dealing with every student. Every student mattered. We knew we had someone very unique when we spoke with parents of children in the other schools. We didn’t care if she was a “good administrator” in the paper pushing sense and I imagine that if the District had tried to remove her, we would have fought vigorously to prevent it because every student knew that they mattered to her and that’s what was important to us as parents.
In the 4 years my son was at BHS, he had 3 principals. In the 5 ½ years I’ve been on the BHS Site Council I’ve worked with 2 of them. During Dr. Holland’s tenure as principal I often wondered what his role was supposed to be. He didn’t communicate with us very often and he sure didn’t seem to connect with the students either so when he was told in February ‘09 that he would not be back the next year, there was no public outcry but he pretty much disappeared for the rest of that school year.
Gary Jensen was apparently told last May that he would not be principal at BHS beyond this school year. I worked with Gary during registration in August and every month since regarding School Site issues. At no time did I ever suspect that anything was amiss. He went to work every day as if nothing had changed. He got Link Crew and freshman health classes reinstated and running again. He worked with the community regarding upgrades to the sports complex, put out fires about Christmas trees, attended just about every event his students were participating in, and worked with the Benicia Police to try to find ways to keep our more troubled kids, out of trouble. He never gave any indication that whatever policies he put in place last year or was trying to implement this year, might be moot next year because he wouldn’t be here. I never heard about Gary’s situation from him until I confronted him directly last month after hearing rumors.
I’m sure things have fallen through the cracks or there have been problems with communication, but when you have the wreckage left by 7 principals in 11 years, that’s a lot of turnover and turmoil to unravel while making sure everything else runs smoothly on a day to day basis for your 1,650 students. I’m sure the district could probably find a great paper pusher. Well maybe not, since 7 principals in 11 years doesn’t say much for the district’s track record, but you can teach someone how to fill out forms or schedule meetings, things that many people even have assistance with in the outside world. But you can’t teach someone how to care about other people. You can’t teach someone how to be compassionate and truly concerned about the students they are responsible for. You can’t teach someone how to make every kid feel like they matter. You can’t teach someone all those things that I was so fortunate to have in a principal at the beginning of my kids’ school years and hope to have for the remainder of her school years. Please do the right thing and keep Gary Jensen as principal of Benicia High School.