As students headed back to class this past week at , a familiar face also returned to the school as its new principal.
Brent Kuykendall, who just finished his first official school week as principal at Ridgecrest, is no stranger to the Palos Verdes Peninsula—or even Ridgecrest, for that matter.
In addition to growing up on the peninsula and attending Ridgecrest as a student, Kuykendall has also taught at the school and has worked in the school district for 13 years. Most recently, Kuykendall served as an associate principal at .
In his role as an administrator, Kuykendall hopes that his familiarity with the peninsula and his experience growing up and teaching there will help him better connect with both students and parents.
"I tell parents all the time—it helps growing up in the community; it helps understanding the pressure of growing up on the Hill," said Kuykendall. "There are great opportunities that come with that, but there are also challenges and stresses that can be created by surrounding yourself with a lot of successful families and students."
Throughout his career in education, Kuykendall said that he has taught under the philosophy of "every student will succeed." Although he readily admits it comes off as cheesy, Kuykendall said that it is important to recognize that every student has a different definition of success.
"What I like to reiterate is: Find what success is for you and find a way to help you get there," said Kuykendall. "Success can mean for one kid getting straight As in every single class while for another young man or woman, it can be just getting your homework turned in this week or it can be not being late to class."
As the school year begins, Kuykendall said that among other goals—such as moving towards meeting the California Depatment of Education's Common Core State Standards—he hopes to incorporate what he calls "21st-century skills" into the classroom.
"The fact of the matter is, we have to prepare students for jobs that haven't even been created yet," said Kuykendall. "My goal (for teachers) is, 'Hey, look at what you are doing and is that really preparing our students for the next generation of jobs?'"
But, Kuykendall said, his goals are not attainable without the school's staff, which has already laid the groundwork.
"When it comes down to being a leader on this campus, I have a lot of amazing teachers, and I just tell them, 'I am here to support you,'" said Kuykendall. "It was a successful school before I got here, and I really want to continue that and move in that direction."
"Whatever I can do to make sure the focus is on the best interest of every student, then that is what I am going to follow through with."
Get to Know Principal Kuykendall:
- College: Northern Arizona University (Bachelor of Science in Teaching with an emphasis in Early Childhood)
- Graduate School: California State University Northridge (Masters Degree and Administrative Credential in Educational Leadership Policy Studies)
- Previous Schools: Palos Verdes High School (Associate Principal); (Assistant Principal); (Teacher); Ridgecrest Intermediate School (Teacher).
- Family: Wife, Salvatrice, and three children