Spindrift October 20, 2022
Ken DuFour opened. He prayed for Jeff Yeargain as he recovers from major surgery and Marj Collins who recently was diagnosed with cancer. Ed Romeo led the pledge.
Mike Gertner announced week 6’s football pool results. He began by giving Susan Abrams her earnings from the prior week’s pool. Gail Demmer was week 6’s low person. Fran Murphy and Michael Call tied for second, and because she was closest to the tie breaker number, Fran took second. W.C. Fox was the victor.
Cynthia Strasmann introduced Dr. Kirk Bauermeister, Back Bay High School’s new principal. Kirk has been with Newport Mesa Unified since 1979, except during the 1990s when he owned and managed a local sporting goods store. He has been a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, and principal at Costa Mesa Middle and High, Tewinkle Middle, and Estancia High. Prior to joining Back Bay, Kirk served seven years as the district’s Executive Director of Secondary Education. His wife Deni works at Kaiser Elementary and one of his two daughters is a counselor at Costa Mesa High. Kirk recently became a grandfather.
Back Bay High welcomes Newport Mesa high school students who are behind on credits and consequently not on track to graduate. The school’s mission is to graduate each student with a plan for his/her future (i.e., 4-year university, 2-year community college, trade school, military, or employment). Kirk rejects the characterization of Back Bay students as “bad” kids. He describes them as young adults facing serious life challenges. Some are homeless or rent rooms weekly. Many come from troubled family situations and must work to support themselves or their families.
Kirk is pleased to return to the teaching environment and is passionate about making a difference in his students’ lives. His first step was to meet with staff members to learn their perspectives on what was and wasn’t working at the school. Using their input, Kirk established goals and expectations for teachers and students aimed at maximizing the school’s chances of attaining its goals. Equally important, the process gave his staff a voice along with his support.
Kirk expects three R’s from students – be ready, responsible, and respectful. Ready requires them to be in their seats ready to learn, with all required materials, when the bell rings. Responsible means they give their best effort to learn, to contribute to discussions/ projects, and to refrain from digital distractions. Respectful is following directions when first asked, exhibiting respect, and using academic language. Kirk has written policies, including punishments, for unexcused absenc- es and tardies, failure to work, being under the influence, and misuse of cell phones. Finally, he requires students to dress for success. They may not wear gang apparel, sports related hats, or clothing advertising drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, advocating racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice, or displaying weapons or vulgar or sexually suggestive language. They are also prohibited from dressing in pajamas, slippers, and hoodies over their heads. Students’ attire must conceal undergarments, cover shoulders and midriffs, and be mid-thigh or longer.
Of course, it wasn’t easy to get the students on board. Therefore, Kirk offered them a financial incentive – a $1,000,000 plus payoff! He explained that over their work life, high school graduates earn $360,000 more than drop outs, and a two-year college degree adds another $700,000. This carrot is motivating students to put in the effort to graduate and to develop a plan for their futures.
Kirk has two objectives for his teachers – love the kids and teach them at a higher level. In light of their life challenges, he asks teachers to go the extra mile for students. Indeed, most teachers double as counselors. In prior years, Kirk’s goals would have been difficult or impossible to meet because students acted out without consequences. However, with the new student expectations and discipline for policy violations, the teachers are succeeding. Because students are motivated about their futures, attendance is high this year, 90% versus 60% the prior year. Also, for the first progress report, student GPAs were higher than prior years.
Back Bay staff meet with every junior and senior to discuss their career goals. Once a student’s career plan is established, he/she is matched with an adult mentor in their chosen career. Also, during the second semester, each senior is enrolled in a class at a junior college. Aside from learning, this acquaints students with the college environment and the registration process.
Kirk interacts with the school’s 134 students daily. Teachers send students who violate school rules to him so the teachers can focus on teaching. Kirk listens to these troubled students to learn if something prompted them to act out and to help them, if possible, with their problems.
Kirk discussed how the Exchange Club can be involved with Back Bay High. Members can evaluate students’ Senior Exit Projects wherein they research a career and give a presentation about it. Members may subscribe to the Back Bay Community Involvement Newsletter and respond to requests for volunteers or donations therein. Finally, members may serve as mentors for students striving for the same careers.
Mitch Mitchell expressed how impressed he was with Kirk’s presentation and noted Back Bay needs community support. Kirk said he invited community members to visit the students when the school year began and encouraged them to return throughout the year to demonstrate their continued support. Mitch questioned whether the school offered shop classes. Although there’s no wood or auto shop class, there is a “Spider Lab” where students learn to embroider, silk screen, and to make wraps for cars. They also learn business skills including sales and invoicing for products.
Richard Swinney wondered it the teachers agree with Kirk’s goals and expectations. Kirk replied they do, especially those requiring students to attend class and to arrive on time. They also appreciate being involved in establishing them.
Jerry Nininger asked if there are any poor teachers. Kirk said no. When you set expectations and hold teachers accountable, they rise to the task, especially when they receive the support necessary to perform their jobs.
Ed Romeo asked if there was a school counselor and Kirk replied there is one.
Oct 20 - Robyn Grant, Jim Mosher, and Amy Peters
Candidates for Newport Beach Council
Oct 27 - Todd Hanson – Council for Aging
Nov 3 - Tara Dempster – CASA
Nov 10 - Patricia Wenskunas – Crime Survivors
This week we will be at the Newport Beach Yacht Club. Lunch will be served at 12:20 pm. You will be emailed an invitation two days before the meeting. Please notify Richard Swinney by this Wed 2 PM if you are planning on attending.