By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
As departing Palisades Charter Elementary School Principal Joan Ingle enters her re-retirement, the school welcomes Juliet Herman to fill the position.
Herman began her career as a high school English teacher, going on to teach high school and middle school for about 10 years before moving on to an independent charter school in Thousand Oaks. After working at the Ventura County Office of Education, she felt like she really missed working directly with students.
“I started to look around for another opportunity and I found Pali,” Herman shared. “It’s been an amazing match for me.”
After four cycles of interviews in 2019, the district had not yet found a replacement for Ingle, who agreed to come back from retirement on an interim basis. When they started the search up again in March, they selected Herman.
Herman explained that she loves charter schools, that she is passionate about providing opportunities and options for parents.
And, she touched on the beauty of the Palisades in particular.
“I did a tour of the campus before my first interview and it’s just a lovely and idyllic school,” Herman added. “From doing my research in terms of the charter and looking on the website, I could tell that it was a really, really amazing, cohesive, and very warm and welcoming community. And I have found all of those things to be true since I started.”
When asked what her goals for the upcoming school year are, Herman led with “keeping everybody calm” in the face of the pandemic and virtual learning.
“We are just in absolutely unchartered territory and we’re all there together,” Herman explained, “so I hope to provide a strong vision of maintaining Pali’s community and commitment to academic rigor.”
She shared that she hopes that the students have a positive academic experience, in addition to an enriching experience, with programs like drama, music and PE—all while maintaining a feeling of community from a distance.
Herman explained that she has seen the effect that distant learning has on parents.
“Parents are so anxious and they’re so concerned,” Herman said.
She explained that she hopes to quell some of this anxiety by being sensitive to the information she sends out, ensuring it is as correct as possible.
“It’s very important to me that we create an atmosphere of trust so that parents can trust and rely on what I say, that teachers can trust and rely upon what I say, and that we can create a happy and cohesive learning environment for our students,” Herman said.
She also said that it is important for teachers to take care of themselves and that teachers are also entering unchartered territory—there is no real playbook for how to open schools in a virtual environment, so the entire school community is in it together.
“I ask for a lot of grace and mercy from everybody on each other, but also ourselves,” Herman said. “We have to be very easy on ourselves and just take a breath and try to be as flexible as possible in these moments.”
Ahead of the official start of the year, Herman said that she has already spoken to many parents and that she likes to keep an open-door policy, which is currently “open phone,” due to the pandemic.
All things considered, she shared that she feels very lucky to be a part of the community in spite of the “daunting” challenges that lie ahead this year.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” Herman concluded, “and if we come together and we invent together, we have the power to make this situation something that is amazing.”
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