Welcome, Principal Dade
Welcome to our spotlight podcast where we take time to feature a different person on campus. Today weâ€™re here to welcome Principal Brandon Dade to Walnut High School, as he discusses his background, his passions and his first impressions of Walnut.
*Full video interview at the bottom of the post
Michelle Chang: We kind of want to know about your background, like working with school and maybe like what youâ€™ve done in the past.
Brandon Dade: So, Iâ€™ve been an instructional aide. That was my first job in education. And then from that point I went on to being an L.A. County Childrenâ€™s Social Worker, and that was school-based. So that was a great great experience, and I realized that I missed being in the school setting.
I live out east of here in Ontario. So, I wanted to get closer to the home to spend more time with the family and not be on the freeway two to three hours a day. So I took a position as an assistant principal at Corona Norco at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. And then the last two years I was a principal for [an intermediate school]. And then I came here and found that this was available. So I went to Nogales High School and I went to Giano Intermediate. I noticed they were very, well – a lot of family members and friends were here. So when I saw the position come available I said, “Ah, Iâ€™m trying this out.” Luckily it worked out and Iâ€™m very fortunate and blessed to be here.
Olivia Chiang: What were your first impressions of Walnut High School when you came?
Dade: Iâ€™m going to be honest, you guys are great students. Youâ€™re very friendly and very confident and you are involved. Youâ€™re typical teenagers to the extent where some people are shy when they first meet me but definitely, my very first impression is that I would be able to interact in a very positive way with all the students here. I love your passion and desire to be high achievers academically. So thatâ€™s my first impression. Iâ€™m very passionate about academics and going to college or being successful after high school. I love that you balance things out by doing some extracurricular things as well.
Michelle Chang: How do you think your background can help contribute to Walnut as well?
Dade: I definitely kind of take all my experiences and kind of put them in one bucket when Iâ€™m working with students or teachers or anybody to help support students. So itâ€™s really worked out great for me because I can have a student come in who goes, â€śYou know, I want to go Stanford,â€ť and then I say, â€śOkay, well when I was a counselor, Stanford had some pretty prestigious requirements to get in and you know 20,000-30,000 applications. So letâ€™s find other schools that match Stanford academically or your passion.â€ť And that has helped me.
As a social worker I work with police officers, firemen and politicians, so being around those individuals I always pay attention to â€śHow did you get here?” So I listened and I got to absorb that knowledge and now I can share that with students and teachers. Really I think every experience Iâ€™ve had, Iâ€™ve never went into a position thinking or left the position feeling like Iâ€™ve figured it out. I have that kind of lifelong learner thing. It was a great experience for me to remember all of those experiments and to help not only myself but the next position and the people I work with.
Olivia Chiang: What are some differences between Walnut and places youâ€™ve been to in the past?
Dade: The main thing Iâ€™ve noticed is that Walnut is that the high school is very much part of the community. There are teachers who went to school here, who come back and theyâ€™re people who have never left. The major difference that Iâ€™ve noticed is that a lot of teachers that have been here for 20 years and they have not lost that passion or heart or excitement to teach. When youâ€™ve been in the same occupation for so long you kind of burn out a little bit. And so for teachers here to meet with them and they say theyâ€™ve been here for 28 years and smiling and theyâ€™re excited, thatâ€™s the major difference. Iâ€™ve noticed that there are people who come here and this home home and they donâ€™t want to go to any other place. They keep trying to reinvent themselves and stay in tune with the students.
Michelle Chang: What are you looking forward to doing in Walnut?
Dade: Just making sure that I bring all those experiences that Iâ€™ve learned, into helping make the best transition as possible for all these new things that are going. And ultimately just making sure that the students leave here very much prepared for any pulse secondary option that they choose. So you really want to make sure that they have a foundation so our students have everything they need to go out there and kind of create their own career versus trying to fit in, you know, and thatâ€™s kind of in my life.
Funny thing actually, I never wanted a job for which I had to get up before ten in the morning. I remember telling my mom that, and she laughed like, â€śYeah right, thatâ€™s not going to happen.â€ť But I didnâ€™t dream about being the president. I dreamt about helping, and all of my experiences and talents and training have brought me to this moment. Itâ€™s been a very good fit and good experience so far, so Iâ€™m looking forward to many years.
By Michelle Chang, Editor-in-chief and Olivia Chiang, Feature editor