I was giving a tour of the Discovery STEM Academy to students from Cal Poly Pomona in 2012 when one of them turned to me and said in amazement, “Wow, I wish I had this as a kid.” In that moment I realized that was exactly the reaction I was hoping for from visitors, and it has become my litmus test for the environment we’ve built.
Middle school years can be hard! There aren’t many people who would want to go back and relive them, and yet those years are foundational for success in later life. My goal is to give students a variety of experiences and challenges that will push them to achieve, and which will open their eyes to options they might never have considered. We have a huge focus on engineering at Fulton & Alsbury, and with good reason. We live in the Aerospace Valley, and there are high paying, exciting jobs going unfilled.
I remember a high school friend who wanted to study “rocket science.” Although I liked science, math, and technology a lot, I figured at the time that rocket scientists must belong to another category of humans. I’ve discovered in the past few years that aerospace engineers, mechanical engineers, and true rocket scientists are indeed knowledgeable, but I’ve also learned they’re regular people and that students who are driven and who work hard can do those jobs. I’ve invited many scientists and engineers to talk with our students. Several were young women. Some were people of color. I want our kids to see that they can actually become a rocket scientist, or attend Caltech, or work for NASA, or build spaceships, or do something very hard.
I was sitting at a symposium with two of my 8th grade students and NASA astronaut Eric Boe for an entire day, and I thought to myself that as a kid, I never dreamed that something like that might have been possible. Another day I was with a few of my students listening to a briefing from Mike Melvill, the first commercial astronaut, who discussed his experience flying SpaceShipOne and showed video from that thrilling adventure.
I’ve listened to the CEO of a $6 billion company discuss computer engineering and life sciences with the entire 7th grade at my school, I’ve met the deputy director of the Mars Science Laboratory while my students interviewed her, and a United States general gave a promotion address to Fulton & Alsbury’s first 8th grade class. My job of connecting students with world-class experiences is something I find highly motivating, and I look forward to years and years of doing more of this.
Fulton & Alsbury is an amazing place. Our teachers work tirelessly for our kids, and the results are borne out in our high academic achievement, our safe school environment, and our ability to help our students become creative problem solvers. Not all of them will become engineers, of course, but their ability to collaborate in teams, to speak in front of a group, to give a proper hand shake, and to think outside of the box will be valuable professional skills in whatever path they ultimately choose to take.
If you’re interested in learning more about Fulton & Alsbury, please give me a call. I’d be happy to talk with you, and if you’d like, to show you around. We’ll always end up in the library in some super comfortable chairs. And my morning announcements will always end with a super corny joke. And our students will one day say, “I’m so glad I had that as a kid.”
I suppose a little biographical background might be interesting to share:
Mission Viejo High School, IB full diploma.
B.A., The Master’s University. Biblical Studies major with an emphasis in Missions and Biblical Languages.
M.A., CSU Bakersfield. Master’s in Education: Curriculum and Instruction, core emphasis in educational technology.
Ed.D., UCLA. Doctorate in Educational Leadership.
Antelope Valley Christian School. 5th Grade. 1999-2000.
Desert View Elementary. 4th Grade. 2000-2006.
Assistant Principal. Piute Middle School. 2006-2009.
Principal. Piute Middle School. 2009-2011.
Principal. Discovery School. 2011-2016. First principal.
Principal. Fulton & Alsbury Academy. 2016-present. First principal.
I taught two college courses for CSU Bakersfield’s master’s degree program, Educational Research and Educational Statistics, while one of the professors was on sabbatical.
Other interesting things:
I’ve climbed Mt. Whitney three times, once with my brother-in-law, once with my wife, and once with the Piute staff.
I was an honorary commander at Edwards AFB for two years, assigned to the Electronic Warfare Group.
I rode my bicycle for 101 miles, from Palmdale to Tehachapi and back. I have a goal to ride from Death Valley to the Whitney Portal, which would be over 130 miles and an elevation gain of over 14,000 feet.
My mother’s cousin’s husband’s great-uncle is Ernest Hemmingway. True story.
I moved the Immovable Ladder at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1997.
I’m known to run outside when I hear the rumble of unusual aircraft!
And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall.