Q&A with East Ridge principal on the first week at new high schoolThe long awaited opening of East Ridge High has finally arrived, and everyone is wondering how did it go?
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
The long awaited opening of East Ridge High has finally arrived, and everyone is wondering how did it go? The Woodbury Bulletin recently sat down with ERHS principal Aaron Harper to discuss the first week of school.
Woodbury Bulletin: What was the first day of school like?
Aaron Harper: It was just running around being crazy and all the emotion attached to it — kind of all that rolled up into one. It was emotional, it was draining, super exciting, energizing, crazy. But also trying to take a moment to live in the moment and realize that it’s a special day.
WB: What was it like for the kids on the first day school?
AH: We had no criers, so we’re good. By 9:30, 10 o’clock, it honestly felt like a well-oiled machine. Which was both rewarding and surprising.
WB: What has the first week of school been like?
AH: It has been lot of the same as the first day. Since it is the year of the firsts it felt nice to be able to put an end to a week. It felt good.
WB: What have been some of the kinks you have had to iron out this week?
AH: You have some kinks, outside of my control, one of those for example is transportation — a few buses not arriving when they’re supposed to. But you also have some things within your control that you have to resolve like the bell systems, making announcements, trying to work on the system of procedures and processes.
WB: Throughout the week, how did the students seem to transition to their new surroundings?
AH: Many of the students settled into somewhat of a routine, they felt more confident, more comfortable. I think they, as a school, as a community, are starting to gel more together which is always helpful. What we’re trying to start here is we have a culture here at East Ridge where kids belong and they look out for each other.
WB: What about the staff?
AH: I have never worked with a staff who has been more dedicated, energetic, optimistic, and quite frankly embracing the ‘can do’ attitude. They have been all-star troopers. They have been very positive and energetic. They’re patience and their persistence in being patient has really paid off.
WB: What has it been like to transition back into being an educator?
AH: It’s been nice to try and put away all the construction related tasks that have formally been in my job description and really focus on kids. I’ve really enjoyed that, but it has also been a challenge because the construction items are still here. For a minute here I will have one foot on one side of the fence in the construction world and the other in more of the education world, which I’m trying to fall over the fence in that direction.
WB: Have you seen the community forming within the school?
AH: When you see kids grabbing other kids that they don’t know and inviting them over to sit with them, talk with them, get to know them, it’s more than just getting along. Getting along is two kids playing in the sand box without throwing sand. Getting along is very low level. What I’m seeing, what I’m experiencing, is different than that. These kids want to be together, they want to get to know each other and they want to help each other be successful. That is successful.
WB: What do you want to accomplish this year?
AH: I have a lot of lofty goals. The top goal is to make sure our community of learners understand that we’re here because it’s an academic institution and ultimately why we’re here is to improve our learning. It’s really to create that environment, that culture, and really set students up for success.
WB: What are you thoughts now that East ridge has finally become a part of District 833?
AH: I just really look forward to working with the larger community and having them come into this beautiful facility that they built. In addition to that, I would like to thank them for that opportunity. I am very confident that what they were voting “yes” to was opportunity for kids. Yes, you can visually see a beautiful facility, but I think symbolically it should tell folks that it’s opportunities for kids because that’s what’s really going on inside of the building.