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New MVHS principal brings experience to reopening challenge

Michael Jimenez” width=
Jimenez

Michael Jimenez may be new to Mountain View High School, but he’s already known the superintendent for more than a decade.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees unanimously appointed Jimenez as Mountain View High’s principal at a meeting last week. Jimenez is set to start July 1.

He comes from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, where he currently serves as assistant superintendent of secondary schools. That’s the same district Superintendent Nellie Meyer came to MVLA from. However, the two have known each other much longer. It was Meyer who appointed Jimenez to his first principal post when they both worked in the San Diego Unified School District.

According to Meyer, Jimenez’s experience working at both the school and district level, as well as his ability to build relationships with staff, parents and students, made him a good fit to lead Mountain View High.

“(He’s) very experienced and was very successful as a high school principal and very calm in a storm,” Meyer said.

That ability to remain steady during challenging times will be useful as MVLA navigates the pandemic and the start of next school year, Meyer said.

Jimenez has worked in education for more than 30 years, beginning as a substitute teacher in San Diego in the 1980s. From there, he became a physical education teacher. Ultimately, one of the principals Jimenez worked for asked if he was interested in school administration and he began pursuing that path.

Jimenez ended up serving as a vice principal at the elementary, middle and high school level, as well as being a high school principal. Ultimately, Jimenez moved up to Northern California, taking a job at Mt. Diablo, where Meyer was superintendent.

After Meyer left Mt. Diablo and took the job at MVLA last year, Jimenez said the district moved in a direction that was no longer a good fit for him. He reached out to Meyer and decided to apply for the job at Mountain View High.

Positive culture

Although he’ll be moving from being an assistant superintendent back to being a principal, Jimenez said “it’s more about the work and the working relationships that you have with people.” He said he respects Meyer, in particular her focus on students and attention to equity in education.

He will replace Dave Grissom, who is taking a job as commissioner of the California Interscholastic Federation’s Central Coast Section. As Jimenez settles into the new job, he said he wants to focus on continuing the positive culture Grissom is leaving behind.

“I want to make sure I can build upon that environment,” Jimenez said. “It’s not just a good place to learn, it’s a place … kids want to come and have fun in that environment – fun learning and fun with extracurricular activities.”

The goal is to foster a safe and trusting learning environment, where students know it’s OK to make mistakes and learn from them, Jimenez said. He’s also interested in focusing on closing the achievement gaps at Mountain View High, which refers to gaps in academic success among groups of students.

Beyond the larger goals, though, Jimenez also will be in charge of leading the school through the transition from remote learning to an ultimate return to campus.

“We have a lot of challenges as we open up, and so it’s nice to have someone who knows school operations inside and out,” Meyer said.

As he begins to get involved in planning for next year, Jimenez said he wants to concentrate on ensuring that students can access education, regardless of the ultimate form it takes when the start of the new school year arrives. There will be a learning curve at the beginning, Jimenez said, but he added that he wants to collaborate with the staff, students and the broader school community.

Said Jimenez, “I want to make sure I can support them and help them right now.”

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