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Salinas
June 19, 2024

Vista Verde opens with new principal and class changes

Photo by Sean Roney
Vista Verde Middle School Principal Ulises Gonzalez

GREENFIELD — Last Monday was the first day of classes for Vista Verde Middle School, with Principal Ulises Gonzalez overseeing the education of seventh- and eighth-grade students during his first year on campus.

Besides a new principal, Vista Verde has shifted to a smaller size as the sixth-grade students now attend the district’s elementary schools.

“I know we’re going to have a very successful school year,” Gonzalez said.

In regard to the campus shifting back to serving two grade levels rather than three, he said, “We are going to be able to create a huge impact and have those students ready for high school.”

Gonzalez has 15 years of educational experience, having worked with the school systems in Mexico and then becoming a binational teacher and an exchange visiting teacher before starting with Salinas’ Alisal Union School District in 2008.

“I think one of the things I always recommend to all of my colleagues is to build relationships,” Gonzalez said of successful techniques he has learned through his leadership journey.

He sent letters out to families to introduce himself over the summer and was on campus the previous Monday when students and their families came by to pick up schedules before the start of the academic year.

“Some of them were surprised to see me,” Gonzalez said of reactions to seeing a Latino principal from Mexico. “That’s a huge impact on how they see administration, me talking to them in Spanish.”

Gonzalez explained the binational background allows him to connect to many student backgrounds, as many of Greenfield’s families are from Mexico.

He added that his years in the Mexican educational system allow him to connect with migrant parents, who themselves went to school in Mexico.

“Our community from Mexico has a high respect for teachers, but we have to show them that we have high standards and have high expectations for all of our students,” he said. That connected back to his goal of building relationships, by assuring parents that the school will do its best.

Vista Verde’s offerings this year include college prep and elective classes as a result of the grade-level shift and partnerships with organizations. Some examples are the planned maker space and robotics classes.

Gonzalez explained, “We have more staff and a lower ratio of students per teacher. That helps us create other electives as well.” He went on to say, “It’s getting the students interested in coming to school. The time they’re here on campus, we want them to invest that time in positive things that are going to help them for the future.”

He added, “That’s our focus districtwide, when we say ‘All Means All.’ It means every student should have the same opportunities regardless of their background.”

The community might want to meet the new middle school principal, to which Gonzalez said, “My doors are open for everyone, not just the students, but the community. I’m here to serve and make an impact in our community.”

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