A new principal revitalizes Sonoma Valley High School

In an effort to raise students’ academic performance, departments are developing their own core standards and building common assessments so that there is a similar experience and approach in all classrooms, regardless of the teacher.

“This can help teachers collaborate and work together so they can discuss their students’ performance and any points of struggle, and get help from fellow teachers,” Case said.

To enhance communication, meetings of approved and classified staff – as well as joint meetings of groups – have been implemented.

“Providing connectivity for all groups in the school has been tremendous,” Case said, adding that she hosts office hours most weeks for students and families during which they can come without an appointment to introduce themselves, ask questions or raise concerns.

“As administrators,” she said, “we try to be open to everyone and be very visible, out and about on campus so everyone feels accessible and accessible.” “And any time we’re looking to make any kind of larger school decision, we think about how we go about getting input from everyone and making sure there’s ample opportunity for participation.”

Case developed counseling skills early in her career, and they have come in handy as she continues to implement these and other changes on campus.

“Perhaps because of her counseling background, Molly’s greatest gift is her ability to listen and make people feel heard,” said Tamone. “She can synthesize a lot of information and see situations from many different angles and points of view, and she never rushes to ‘get to solutions’ without listening to input from students and staff. For a place with a cultural problem, that’s huge. People need to feel valued and heard.”

Lisa Conner, the school’s college counselor, adds, “I think one of the greatest indicators of a strong leader is realizing that they don’t know everything. Molly will listen to what the employee has to say and then ask questions before making a decision. After two years of coronavirus and countless changes in the Leadership We are very pleased to have a leader who is willing to listen and is not afraid to make tough decisions.”

Case earned her BA in Sociology from the University of San Francisco in 2010 and proceeded to earn her MA in Counseling Psychology from the school in 2013. She later worked as a counselor at Wallenberg High School in San Francisco from 2013 to 2018 and Lincoln High School in San Francisco in 2018.

At Wallenberg, Kiss began taking on leadership roles, including serving on the school site board, launching the first cultural/climate team and coordinating the Advanced via Individual Determination program, in which educators hold college-bound students accountable while providing them with academic and social support.

“All these leadership roles gave me an opportunity to learn more about the different programs and systems in the school, and I started to see myself as a leader,” she said.

In 2018, Case became assistant director of the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology in San Francisco. She and her husband, Lavon Shepherd, had a child, Quinn, in January 2020 and decided to move from San Francisco to Petaluma because of the nearby parks, slow pace, good schools, and affordable housing. At first, she switches to her job at Galileo, but when the epidemic hits, she takes up the hybrid job.

“I really wanted to work close to home,” she said. “I enjoy living close to the community I work with. I saw the vice principal position at Sonoma Valley High School, and it seemed like she might be a perfect fit.”

Her initial hunch was accurate.

“Going forward, I’m invested in our community,” she said. “I intend to be here. SVHS has had a lot of leadership turnover, and I hope to provide stability and consistency to the school, as does the entire management team. We are committed to the business and our school community.”

She feels the main challenge for the school is to keep the positive momentum going.

“We’ve had a strong start to the year, and even when the going gets tough or we face challenges together, I want to continue to support our teachers, staff, students, and families so we can continue the positive work we’ve started,” Kiss said.

Reach reporter, Dan Johnson, at daniel.johnson@sonomanews.com.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: