In the middle of first quarter, Carol Sanderson was named Vice-Principal at Waialua High and Intermediate School replacing Ryan Ishimoto, who left over the summer to accept the same position at Aiea Intermediate School. As a former principal at a charter school in Stockton, California, population 285,000, she is coming to our small country town of Waialua, population 3860. She’s using her experiences to set her vision and goals, in order to make Waialua High and Intermediate a better learning environment. The following is Anna Peters’ interview with Mrs. Sanderson.
by Anna Peters
Where are you from?
“I am from Stockton, California where I was the principal at Pacific Law Academy Charter High School.”
What’s the difference from being principal and vice principal?
“They’re very similar roles. I am not responsible for the whole school anymore and am supporting the principal, which I am happy to be doing. Coming from California, it’s an entirely different education system to the Hawaii education system, so this is an opportunity for me to learn how things are done in the education system here. Ultimately, I would love to become principal again.”
Why did you decide to come to Waialua?
“I came here because my husband is a Farrington High School graduate and he wanted to come home. I saw this as a great opportunity to submit my qualifications for various administrative positions. Fortunately, I was offered a position here and at two other places. However, I chose here since I thought this school was the best fit for me because of the student population, size, and location.”
How is Waialua different from Pacific Law Academy Charter High School?
“I would have to honestly say that kids are kids wherever you are, but one of the biggest differences is that this school is much bigger than the school I came from. The school I came from was very small; there were only 220 students and 13 teachers. Another difference is that I’m coming from a school where it was a charter program and I had a lot of autonomy with the course offerings. In addition, the rigor of Waialua compared to Pacific Law Academy Charter High School is that Waialua is a little more laid back.”
How do you like it here and what was your first impression?
“The first day I walked onto campus with students I thought, “Wow these kids are so nice.” The kids here are just so welcoming. I was given a tour by one of the seniors, Lea’a Puleiala, and I loved it. She was very vivacious, proud of the school, and proud of the students and faculty, so I felt like this is a very good place for me because it felt like I was at home. This is a feeling that you don’t get at all campuses and it is a feeling that I love. This was also a feeling that I got at my old school, so it was an excellent transition for me.”
What is your vision and goals?
“I have a lot of goals for Waialua, but some of them would include establishing community partners. In the long run, my vision for this school is for students to get a well-rounded education. This not only means a good education in the classroom, but also participating in extracurricular activities, joining clubs, and playing sports because that’s what high school is all about. It is about learning how to open yourself up to different experiences whether you’re successful or not and having that growth mindset. For example, it’s okay if you’re not a starter in baseball your freshman year. If you keep working hard, then you’ll probably make it next year. In addition, I would also like to establish small learning communities. The middle school is already doing that, so I would also like to incorporate something like that for the 9th grade where all the teachers collaborate with each other. Some of my short term goals are to reduce tardies and absences.”
What would you like to say to the students, parents, and community?
“First of all, I would like to say, thank you for welcoming me into the Waialua family. I feel very fortunate and blessed to be here. My doors are always open if you guys have any questions, concerns, or if you would just like to come in and talk to me. I think that one of the most important assets of an administrator is to maintain communication within the school and the community.”