By DYLAN MIARS
ETHIC News had the opportunity to interview Redlands East Valley High School’s newest principal Jen Murillo to learn about who she is and her background.
Q: What is your job like on a typical day?
A: I don’t know that there is a typical day. When I come to work I might have a wide-open calendar and the work comes to you, students, teachers, meetings, someone from the district office. So, I don’t know if there is necessarily “a typical day.” I think throughout the course of the week I want to be in the classrooms and making connections with our students and teachers during breaks and passing periods and of course after school. I want to also make connections with our office staff [by] walking through and checking up on the work being done. I guess I haven’t been here long enough for a typical day! Part of what’s exciting is what is going to happen every single day and tomorrow will be a different day from today with different challenges. Some days are harder than others. But when you look at them in total, it is so rewarding.
Q: Do you feel that your previous experience at REV as an assistant principal has prepared you for your new position as principal?
A: I have been an administrator for 12 years now. This is my fifth year at REV and first as principal. I found that [being] an assistant principal for such a length of time and working at so many different school sites prepared me for the job. One of the things that has helped me in the transition is the fact that I’ve been here for the past four years and I know the students, I know the families, I know the stuff you need to know. That helped ease some of those first-day jitters. You’ll always encounter some difficulties but I don’t have the learning curve of the people, I already have that built in network of go-to people to help with the job of principal. So yes absolutely.
Q: What made you get into education?
A: When I first applied to college I was as a nursing major. I think it was my first couple of science classes that turned me off to that. Then I became a psychology major to help people to get them to a better place. Then I went to my first statistics class and said, “Nope this is not happening for me!” I knew that I wanted to work with people and I had a passion for young adults so I became an English major knowing I wanted to become an English teacher. There were some key teachers in my life that really influenced me and I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. I want to be that person for somebody else.
Q: So, you came in at an interesting time for REV and the whole school district, because we are seeing the latest programs coming in, one of those being the REV WAY, while others are “sunsetting.” How does this all feel?
A: I think it’s an exciting year to be a principal and to roll out the REV WAY. This has been worked on since last year. We as a staff worked on what we wanted to be our core values which eventually lead to the student interest group in the spring. Regardless of who is sitting in the principal’s chair, the REV WAY was coming. I think it made the transition smoother because Maloney was here for 17 years, he provided this constant leadership. People were nervous about who was going to come in and if they were going change everything. This keeps it together. Even at our first teacher meeting we discussed small changes and how small changes can make a big difference. This helped clarify that there will be no tremendous changes, this ship is not making a 180. We are just looking at little things to sharpen our edge to change us from a great school to an amazing school.
Q: With these small changes, can the readers of ETHIC News get a sneak peek of what is to come?
A: We are implementing new intervention rules on who can get out for intervention. Intervention used to be tied to your standardized test scores and the grades in that class. As we have transitioned from CST to SBACC testing, that has gone away because we don’t have data to rely on. Now we hold the kids accountable for what is going in their class, showing that every single assignment is crucial to it. This is how we got to no missing assignments for intervention and the C or better in-class. Colleges are looking at that the most, and if we want kids on the college and career pathway, we must make sure they have the right grades for it. REV WAY will be rolled out more and more as the year goes on with plans such as character awards for following and embracing the REV WAY.
Q: Is there anything you want to say to a student that is new to Redlands, the school, or to you?
A: Get involved, find something that you are passionate about! That could be clubs or activities, or that could be going to football games or homecoming. That’s what we mean with the Y in REV WAY. What will be your legacy, what will you leave behind? This isn’t my school, this isn’t the teacher’s school, this is the student’s school. They need to find what they can leave behind to make the school better and make themselves proud.
Q: Let’s do some simple questions, what is your favorite color?
A: RED! Hello! Red is really one of my favorite colors even before I started working here.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Mexican food, anything Mexican. Cuca’s is amazing and always hits the spot.
Q: Is that your favorite place to eat?
A: Oh gosh that’s a tossup. My favorite place in town is Cuca’s. One of my favorite places out of town is this real hole-in-the-wall place called Shanghai Red. It is a fish market place in Palm Springs that has the best fish tacos.
Q: What is your favorite school subject?
A: English. I was an English teacher so that’s my preference.
Q: How do you like to spend your days off?
A: Get outdoors. Go outside or go to the park. My daughter loves to walk around downtown Redlands so we go around and look at the local shops. Redlands has so many cool, little things to do.