EVHS's new principal, Dr. Tom Graves, speaks at an Espanola School Board meeting held July 20 at the Carlos Vigil Mid School. Photo by Robert A. Naranjo for the Valley Daily Post
EVHS Principal, Dr. Tom Graves: Stand And Deliver Style
By ROBERT NARANJO
At the regularly scheduled Espanola School Board meeting held July 20, the newly hired principal at the Espanola Valley High School, Dr. Tom Graves, stood before the Espanola School Board, Superintendent Eric Martinez, the Albuquerque television station media, a KDCE radio live remote with Richard Garcia, the local media, and the audience and presented his vision for an improved high school and better outcomes for all students.
Dr. Graves talked to board members and parents about how needed changes must start with each and every student, with help from teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers because failing is not an option anymore in El Llano.
“We need to count on the kids to rise to the occasion,” he said. Then he got the audience’s attention by saying, “We’re looking at sending kids to Northern,” but explained that presently the only students who can afford attending college locally, while in high school, are the only ones doing it.There are still costs even if tuition is free. He added, “We can change that. It’s open to all kids…” In 2007, the State Legislature passed a dual credit program that allows high school students to attend local state colleges and earn dual credit, free of tuition. This program requires coordination between the local high schools and the state funded college or university near them.
“I’m incredibly excited to be here,” Graves said in an understatement. “I’m at the high school at 6 a.m. for the “School Improvement Detail,” he added inviting anyone who would like to meet him can find him there at that time. The School Improvement Detail is one of the four-prong approaches to “Changing the Culture of Student Misbehavior” at the high school (See previous Valley Daily Post story).
The unusually large audience that night may have been impressed with the new principal but the majority appeared to have attended to hear what Superintendent Martinez had to say about re-hiring EVHS basketball coach Richard Martinez. Superintendent Martinez in his Report said that the agreement will be made available in a “a few days.” The agreement was made with the state champion basketball coach, who had been terminated by the former superintendent on April 6. The agreement was the basis for re-hiring Richard Martinez as a teacher and coach of the defending Class 5A State Champion EVHS basketball team.
However, Dr. Graves, going 110 miles an hour explaining his vision and goals, and betterment of the high school and community, likely enjoyed getting his message across to a larger audience, including to a cross-section of the state‘s media, regardless of the motivation of the audience gathered for the meeting.
In a flurry of words, in the limited time he was given, he said that the audience likely was aware that the high school was one of the “lowest-performing schools in the state.” Then he underscored the severity of the problem by stating that New Mexico was number 48 out 50 states, statistically speaking, relative to student educational performance overall.
“Teachers need to teach, not suspend,” he said. “I’m not going to issue ISS (In School Suspension)” he added, alluding to what has been done in the past, pretty much without success. He said that students will be afforded a teacher, counselor, and social worker if need be to get help. “We’re going to start to get it done,” he said.
“We can get it done,” he said with conviction in his voice. “Sold!” someone yelled out from the audience.