Double duty, double the fun
Susan Lopez splits her time as principal between CRPUSD schools Waldo Rohnert and John Reed
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By Natalie Gray  September 6, 2013 12:00 am

“I consider them as the same school split into two different locations,” said Susan Lopez of the two local elementary schools, Waldo Rohnert and John Reed.

Lopez is serving as principal to both of these schools, and those are positions she holds on her own, without the help of an assistant or part-time principal to fill her position when she is paying attention to another campus. This may be because, for a start, Lopez never allows herself to center her attention on just one school.

She is able to split her time perfectly between her two schools, said Lopez, who added she makes sure to visit both schools each day. According to Lopez, she does this to make sure she is visible to all her students.

Visibility’s the goal

“I try to be seen on campus everyday,” said Lopez, who added that her schedule between the elementary schools has thus far worked out perfectly.  The younger children who would be attending John Reed Elementary at kindergarten through third grade, Lopez said, benefit more from seeing her in the morning, where the older students (Waldo Rohnert Intermediate’s fourth through sixth graders) do better at seeing her in the afternoon.

There are only two days out of the week when Lopez spends more time at one of her schools than the other; Mondays, she stays mostly at Waldo Rohnert and Wednesdays she is at John Reed. 

“The best part is seeing the kids,” said Lopez. “I love seeing the kids; whenever I’m feeling down or having a bad day, I go into one of the classrooms…seeing the students really recharges my batteries and reminds me of what it is I am doing.”

Flight tests

This is the beginning of Lopez’s third year as a principal. She began her teaching career with a direct focus on English and language studies and started out as a French teacher. When she had children of her own, Lopez began working part time, still within the world of education. She found herself teaching English to Japanese flight students working toward their pilot’s license. Lopez even took and passed the written flight test with her past students. But she admits to never taking the flight portion of the test and has since let her written results expire.

Lopez took on the role of principal at Waldo Rohnert two years ago. She stepped up to the position of principal at John Reed as well last semester, preparing herself for the permanent position in preparation for the district’s addition of Technology Middle School. When the middle school opened, former John Reed principal Amy Goodwin transferred there to take on the position of middle school principal, leaving the position at John Reed open. The semester of preparation was exactly what she needed to smooth out the bumps in the situation and to become familiar with the two schools, said Lopez.

According to Lopez, one of the key ideas behind her becoming principal of both schools was to incorporate their programs. The schools are designed to function as a single school on two separate campuses. 

She works with teachers and staff at both schools (whom often have large meetings together) to ensure that the classes and programs being taught to their students correlate and prepare the students for their next educational steps.

Rising to the challenge

“I feel like this is a unique chance for me and I have been blessed to work at these two schools and to rise to the challenge,” said Lopez. “I have gotten to know many fabulous teachers…and I think that it has been beneficial for the students as well to work with such a committed staff.”

With the opening of the school, teachers, students and entire grades have been shifted around. 

Among some of these changes, Waldo Rohnert, which used to have students from third to fifth grade has moved to include sixth grade at the school .

Lopez remains vigilant in her goals to teach students language and communication skills and has brought these lessons with her to her current schools. According to Lopez, both of her schools have implemented a reading/writing program under her guidance.

Pride in the programs

There is the literacy program that uses procedures from Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literary Skills (DIBELS) that sees that each student is screened and placed into a reading-level group that best fits his or her need for growth.

According to Lopez, the schools also have implemented a wide variety of programs to their weekly academic schedules, like fifth grade band, computer lab, library time and even a garden on Waldo Rohnert’s campus that students care for. The classrooms have seen the addition of a music program “Santa Rosa Symphony Listening Program,” which allows for students to study the classical music fine arts in their every-day classroom environment. On top of that, Lopez said the two schools are also the only two elementary schools in the district to have the college-preparation program AVID on campus. 

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