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Good vibrations

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! INDUSTRY – Change starts from the small stuff.At Workman High School, students and teachers have noticed a dramatic improvement in attitude and environment this year.And it started with a “Good morning” or “How’s it going” greeting from the school’s new principal.Workman has a new administration team led by Principal Sergio Flores, whom students and staff describe as a leader who listens.“It’s so refreshing to have an administration on campus that listens and responds proactively,” said science teacher Greg Wood.U.S. History teacher and ASB adviser Jennifer Buchi said: “School spirit here is 100 percent different. People don’t talk down about the school anymore.”A year ago, students say, the atmosphere at Workman was scary and hostile, remarkably different from this year.“Last year, it didn’t feel like a high school. It felt like we were trapped in a prison,” said ASB President Ashley Pech, a senior.Nearly one year ago, on Nov. 4, about 130 students walked off campus to protest former Principal Sergio Garcia, whom they describe as controlling and dictator-like. The walkout commenced a tumultuous year that included student protests, vandalism, a vote of no-confidence by teachers and a failed civil suit brought against Garcia by a parent.At the end of the school year, Garcia announced he was taking a job at Artesia High School in Lakewood, which he said is less than two miles from his home.He did not return calls for this story.During the summer, Flores, 36, was appointed to the principal post and three new assistant principals were hired.Flores listens to students’ opinions and attends football games, according to students.When ASB needed a convertible for the Homecoming princesses, senior class President Verenice Quezada said Flores called a local car dealership. For the year’s first rally, the gym lacked a working sound system, so Flores borrowed one from another school, Quezada said.Teachers are also happy that Flores includes them in the decision-making and planning process. They say Flores is a collaborative leader who makes people feel important, a sharp contrast from Garcia, who had an adversarial relationship with some teachers.Flores formed a leadership team that includes teachers, classified staff, parents and students to help make campuswide decisions. Earlier in the year, the team decided to hire a librarian when the school had the budget for an additional teacher, and Flores supported the decision.“When we’re talking about major changes to the school … we definitely bring the staff together,” Flores said. “I think it’s a strong beginning but we have a lot more work to do.”Wood said Flores has won over many faculty members because of his inclusive leadership style. “And he says that,” Wood said. “He says, `I need your help. I need your expertise.”‘A year ago, many people on campus were fervently against the former principal. This year, they can’t say enough good things.“(Flores) is a real leader who listens to what we have to say. He’s not a dictator,” Pech said. “People are a lot prouder to come to school here.” esther.chou@sgvn.com626-962-8811, Ext. 2513last_img
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