In the cafeteria, at games and at school dances, students approach Inglemoor High Assistant Principal Kristin Rose to joke and to talk about personal problems. Northshore Junior High Principal Joshua Sanchez personally tutors students in math in his office.
Both administrators say that building relationships and connections are central to their work.
Sanchez and Rose were both honored this year by the Association of Washington School Principals. Sanchez was named the King County North Region Middle Level Distinguished Principal, and Rose was chosen as the King County North Region Distinguished Assistant Principal.
Both Sanchez and Rose knew before they finished high school that they wanted to be educators.
“When I was graduating from high school myself, I knew I would be back at the high school,” Rose recalled. She said she was drawn to the energy of that age group, when students are busy with academics, athletics and activities.
Sanchez initially planned on having a career in business, but when he began tutoring elementary students when he was senior in high school, he realized he wanted to keep working with kids.
“What really impacted me was the influence that you could have on young people. I really wanted to make a difference that way,” Sanchez said. “From my life growing up, I hoped to influence people to make good decisions, to learn from their mistakes, to be positive that way, to know that you could persevere through what people sometimes go through in childhood. That’s how I got into education – never thought I’d go that way, and boom! I was hooked.”
Sanchez started out as a math teacher, and Rose began as a history teacher, but both felt that influencing students at a pivotal time in their lives was more important to them than the subject matter.
“Math wasn’t my passion; it was the teaching and educating and, again, the influencing,” Sanchez said. “Math was icing on the cake.”
Although Rose is drawn to administration more than teaching, Inglemoor Principal Vicki Sherwood describes Rose as a “natural” teacher. With two colleagues, Rose started a program called Junior Academy for struggling students. The three teachers taught science, social studies and English to the same group of students in a block schedule that lasted half the day.
“We were very engaged with them,” Rose said. “...That year, we really got to understand them and know them.”
In Junior Academy, the students’ attendance improved, they learned to be more respectful of each other’s needs and students passed more classes, Rose said.
Last year, Rose worked with the rest of Inglemoor’s administrative team to start Viking Time, a tutoring and mentoring program. Volunteers from local community colleges, the military, churches and the PTA, as well as advanced students at Inglemoor, offer their help to struggling students at Viking Time.
“The structure of this program is to first build a relationship,” Rose explained. Then, the Viking Time students don’t want to let down their mentors.
Sanchez helped create a similar program, the Mentor Room, at Northshore. Students come to the Mentor Room, which is now in its fourth year, for help with organization, planning and time management, as well as academics.
The school brings in tutors from Cascadia Community College and the University of Washington Bothell to “really [find] someone who can make a connection with them,” Sanchez said. “We know, research shows, that if students have two or more adults in their lives in a positive way, they’re going to do better, be more successful….We’ve seen really positive results from that by the time they’ve left in ninth grade.”
Sanchez also helped develop an after-school program called Hang Time, which gives students who aren’t interested in sports or clubs a place to go after school and form relationships with peers and mentors. Students spend an hour doing homework and an hour playing sports or doing other activities like cooking and art classes.
Hang Time has created student leaders, Sanchez said. He recalls three ninth graders last year who did service learning projects and now, as tenth graders, came back to Northshore to help.
“Students looked up to them. They became role models,” Sanchez said. “...It was so awesome to see where these guys came from in seventh grade – struggling, didn’t believe in themselves.”
Forming connections with students through programs like these helps Sanchez and Rose to support students with academics and other struggles.
“I think the relationship is so important – getting to know them, what makes them tick,” Rose said. “...Once you personalize it, then you can get to the rest.”