As Brookings-Harbor High School’s new principal, DeAnne Varitek is basing her management style on mutual trust.
“Any time you come into a new school, the first challenge is to make sure you build trusting relationships with the people you work with, with the students and with community members,” she said.
“So, it’s a lot of listening and a lot of learning for me. I spent most of the summer listening to what people are proud of and what they have concerns about.”
Varitek said the concerns she’s heard are “pretty typical,” and that attendance is one of them.
“We have lots of concerns from people about making sure that students are attending class on time, every single day. That the great teaching and learning that can occur does happen regularly, and to a high level of expectation,” said Varitek.
She said she’s prioritizing attendance. “That really does take everybody,” Varitek said. “It takes students to sign into what we are doing. It takes parents supporting it and all of us being held accountable.”
Varitek said she’s encouraged by the outpouring of hospitality from the community.
“I have received many fantastic ideas from people who know the community well, who know what’s been tried and what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. And who understand deeply what the reasons are behind the areas that we need to address.”
Policy and procedures
“My leadership style is collaborative,” she said. “No one person can do it in the building; it really takes a team effort.
“So, we are going to be focusing on strengthening the whole team in the building. That includes students and parents, who will be part of that through our focus groups, which have been very valuable.”
And, Varitek said, students will be held accountable. “Our expectations are going to be very clear and they are going to be very consistent. While we are caring, loving adults in the building, we also know that teenagers need to understand where the expectations are, and that they are good for them and that we will be implementing them consistently.”
Varitek said the focus groups will help guide the school’s administrators. “We specifically want to know about the parents’ experiences with regards to communication and other issues,” she said. “Because they have a very unique lens in this building.”
If they choose, students and community members will have the opportunity to be involved separately in the focus efforts. Varitek said she’ll use what she learns from those sessions to develop her overall plan for the high school. “The parents’, the students’, and the community’s hopes and dreams about this school need to be a part of that,” she said.
Originally from Michigan, Varitek’s career includes serving as a school principal in Georgia and Missouri. She has been a school administrator for the past five years.
“I’ve worked in districts larger than Brookings-Harbor, with different and unique issues,” she said, “some similar. But every school has their own culture.”
To reach principal DeAnne Varitek, call 541-469-2108.