Meet Marty Wilkes. An Interview With Pt. Arena High School Principal by Warren Galletti

Meet Marty Wilkes. An Interview With Pt. Arena High School Principal by Warren Galletti

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a five-part series on the Point Arena schools written by District Superintendent Warren Galletti. This month he interviews Pt. Arena High School Principal. Marty Wilkes.

Warren: 

Marty, you’re the fourth or fifth principal at PAHS since 2013. Did this fact give you second thoughts about applying for the job last June?

Marty: 

No. I’ve worked with you. I know you, and I know how transparent you are. Also, this is the first time in my career that leadership wants to do something different for the kids. You and the PA School Board are in agreement — we have to do something different. We’re looking at the idea of recreating school with the ideas of the 21stCentury in mind. One of the biggest draws of coming here is that opportunity.

Warren:

You and I do a lot of laughing and grinding our teeth!

Marty:

Grinding teeth?  I meant to ask, is law enforcement going to be a part of upcoming drills?

Warren:

Officer Greg Steffani stopped in here this morning. He’s sending a representative to the April 29 planning meeting to decide. When’s your next drill?

Marty:

Wednesday, May 29. We’re including the pre-school in the drill, and we’ll notify neighbors if there’s an impact on them.

Warren:

How many lock-down drills have you organized?

Marty:

This will be the third this year. In total, in my career, over 20, including bomb threats, active shooter, earthquake, tsunami, and chemical plan drills — all kinds of drills.

Warren:

When you arrived here eight months ago, PAHS hadn’t had a homecoming dance, pep band or newspaper the year before. Nothing. How’d you turn this around?

Marty:

It wasn’t about me, it was about just having people in place, providing needed resources, giving them the opportunity. When people want to do this or that, I say OK. When you get the right people, it works.

Warren:

Who helped?

Marty:

Dunnell Daleuski, PAHS Activity Director, put a lot of it together, got them going. She’s marvelous! Jared Sherrill, the band teacher, he’d say “I want this”; and, I’d say, “Ok, get the kids out there!” The school newspaper advisor, Mr. Kramer, he’d grab the bull by the horns and he’d run with it.

Warren:

He took a horrible picture of me for the paper. So distorted. I look like a blimp.

Marty:

We’re going to run it in every issue!

Warren:

Could you talk about the incentives you’ve put in place to help with attendance?

Marty:

I started a monthly Ice Cream Social for students who have above 95% attendance. Last month, it was ice cream with Pirate M&Ms. It was just to say, “Hey guys, thanks!”  I also started an incentive for students who play a varsity sport. It takes a 3.75 or higher GPA and 95% attendance record to receive a Scholar Athletic Jacket. I gave out the first jackets April 8. This time, they went to two juniors, two seniors and a freshman.

Warren:

It was beautiful! The expressions on students’ faces when they received their jackets were very rewarding to me. They were proud!

Marty:

I remember seeing athletes with patches on when I was a high school freshman. I still remember all those seniors actually. It motivated me to be a better student, athlete. And, the varsity girls’ state champions, too, who wore banners(?) on their jackets.  I can remember all of those women and what they’ve done with their lives. All successful individuals. I look at this incentive program as a similar gateway to success.

Warren: 

You’ll have two new buses running by the time this article comes out. What do you think the impact will be?

Marty:

Will we have drivers to drive them?

Warren:

Tom is driving one of them this week. They’re 2020 models. Kids seem happy on them. It’s exciting; they’re up to date, a long time coming. Pretty impressive.

Marty:

Not Tesla busses!

Warren:

I’ve talked with our business manager, Catherine Chin, about purchasing a quality van for sporting events and school activities.

Marty:

A fleet of reliable vehicles?

Warren:

This is the beginning!

Warren: 

Marty, can you tell us about changes in the culture of PAHS, as you see the school now?

Marty:

It’s a radically changed culture. When I first got here, there weren’t a lot of rules in place — nothing was being enforced. First the kids pushed back, as teenagers do. They were testing boundaries. I feel bad for the seniors. They’ve had four principals, with four different sets of academic and behavior expectations. You and I, we’re not going anywhere. We’re here to see the success of our students and the transition to a positive learning environment.

     I told the freshman class at the beginning of the year, “You’re my class. I intend to see you cross the stage.”

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