Como, Murray principals preview 2019-20 school year

By Eric Erickson

Stacy Theien-Collins is set to begin her second year as Como Park High School’s principal. Jamin McKenzie is preparing for his second year as principal of Murray Middle School. We asked the school leaders about the academic year that students will soon experience.

The view from Como Park High

Q: How is the construction project coming along at Como?

Theien-Collins: The construction project is on track with the science rooms, elective classrooms, new nurse’s office and health clinic completed for the start of the year.

Our commons and cafeteria space will look very different. It has been opened up to provide a larger commons space with greater ease moving throughout the building. Our new front entrance and office space is on track for a January 2020 completion and as a result, we will be using door number 7 (far west door) as our main entrance with the office temporarily housed in a classroom.

Q: What new initiatives will be implemented at Como this year?

Theien-Collins: One is that we have a new start time: 8:30-3:00 with a new daily bell schedule that supports a short daily advisory time. Secondly, we are excited to focus on freshman through creating academic teams where our students will be co-hosted for English, science and social studies. The teachers will work to welcome and support successful transition into high school as we know the importance of the freshmen academic year in leading students to achieve at high levels throughout high school.

Q: What are you and your staff excited about as you prepare for the new academic year?

Theien-Collins: We are excited to continue offering high-level academics and extra-curricular opportunities that meet the diversity of our amazing learning community. We have amazing students, exceptional staff and great community support. Now we are updating the building to give our students and families facilities to match that excellence.

Q: In one sentence, what do you enjoy about being Como’s principal?

Theien-Collins: There is so much joy in being able to work with students, families and great educators. Como offers that in an atmosphere where students are the sole focus. 

The view from Murray Middle School

Q: What new initiatives or programs will be implemented at Murray this year?

McKenzie: We are excited to be offering a seven-period day that will offer students more opportunities for electives and at the same time create opportunities for our staff to have collaborative work time to create interventions and supports for our students. We will be continuing our work around restorative practices and maintaining a priority around the social and emotional health of our students and staff.

Q: What are you and your staff excited about as you prepare for the new academic year?

McKenzie: There are many reasons for excitement. We are welcoming new students and families to Murray. We are on-boarding new Co-Pilots as staff members. We have extended our visual arts and foreign language programs to full-time. We are going to be able to go deeper with our foundations curriculum that will result in a higher degree of academic and mental health support. And we are able to continue our professional development model allowing our teachers to digitally share their classrooms with each other and learn from each other in a collaborative environment.

Q: In one sentence, what do you most enjoy about being Murray’s principal?

McKenzie: I most value the tradition, dedication and love that Murray’s families have for the school, the students and our staff.

—Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park High School.

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