Ukiah High has a new principal. Analese Alvarez is a veteran teacher and administrator from Southern California. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Alvarez spoke at length about how Ukiah High immediately sparked her interest, her background as an educator, and what she sees as her role as the new principal of Wildcat Nation.
After being provided a tour of campus by seven current students, Doctor Alvarez was immediately impressed with the culture. She sensed school pride, positivity, and love. As she describes, “There was a feeling I got when I went on campus that made me think: yeah, this is where I want to be.”
Ukiah High provided Dr. Alvarez the opportunity to step into the role of a principal in an area with a beautiful atmosphere. She said that Mendocino County was the perfect place to settle down and live her new life.
She admired the murals and was impressed with the facility’s cleanliness and welcoming touch. Dr. Alvarez took notice of the campus’s Pomo language class telling us it indicates a community that honors its history. Another feature she mentioned was the Career Technical Education offerings at Ukiah High School such as welding and auto.
Ukiah High’s new principal has a doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Toledo. She hopes that students will join her in honoring her achievement by calling her Dr. Alvarez.
Most educators have an “ah-ha” moment when they realize that teaching is what they are meant to do. For our new principal, this moment came when she conducted her high school marching band for the very first time— “it just clicked.” Her passion for education also comes from her father who was adamant about going to college and giving back to her community.
She would be the second in her family to graduate high school, two years after her older brother which she joked “wasn’t fair because it was only because he is older”. As a member of the Latino community, Dr. Alvarez is committed to helping others like her break the barriers that surround them on a daily.
Her seminal moment in high school became the catalyst for her life-long love of marching band and education. She has taught in China, coached basketball, and most recently in Santa Barbara County as an assistant principal of San Marcos High School.
Dr. Alvarez’s new position brings with it the bittersweet goodbye of leaving her hometown. After being gone from Santa Barbara for work and college throughout her life, she found a new sense of appreciation for her community and its beauty. However, she is excited to explore Mendocino County’s rolling hills and sandy beaches.
Alvarez also highlighted an initiative she led at San Marco High called the “Care Closet”. The campus had four designated locations where all students, no questions asked, could find free food, school supplies, and other items. The primary focus of the closet eliminates the stress students in need experience by providing them with the resources they need to be successful.
Dr. Alvarez does not have specific plans regarding policies and initiatives for Ukiah High. She is more interested in familiarizing herself with the Ukiah High community, teachers, and staff to understand the needs. She believes that “success is a byproduct” and wants to ensure that every student feels loved.
Two weeks ago, a tragic stabbing death of a 16-year-old at Santa Rosa’s Montgomery High School prompted a community discussion on school safety. In light of this tragedy, we felt compelled to ask Dr. Alvarez about her views on school violence and her experience protecting students and staff during her time as administrator.
Being Assistant Principal at San Marcos High School she helped develop many protocols to maintain campus security. One example she provided was the expectation that all admin and campus security carry radios for instant communication. They developed a set of numeric codes that could be used for rapid response during emergencies.
When tension spills over into physical altercations, Dr. Alvarez emphasizes the importance of quick response and proper precautions.
During her time at the University of Toledo in Ohio, Dr. Alvarez was trained by some of the world’s experts in school violence. She said, “the key to the prevention of school violence is to make sure the administrators know their students.” As the new principal, connecting with the students of Ukiah High is her number one priority over the next school year. Dr. Alvarez said, “I am going to work my tail off to improve instruction for staff and students.”
In her free time, Dr. Alvarez enjoys making a podcast with her best friend called Nerd Best Friends. She explained that the podcast explores nerdy topics such as DND and television. Their most recent episode compares Ready Player One to The Muppets and they argued if they were the same movie. Nerd Best Friends is available on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.
While interviewing Dr. Alvarez we noticed the variety of tattoos on her arm. When asked, she explained each of her eight tattoo’s meanings. A tatted sugar skull that includes the initials CS, represents her father that passed away in 2007 when she was 28. The treble clef represents her love for music which she further expresses with a paper plane to illustrate her love for the song titled “Paper Aeroplane” by KT Tunstall.
Another tattoo Dr. Alvarez has originates from her favorite song by Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy”. Her favorite Fleetwood Mac song dates back to her days as a college freshman when her dad took her to the LA Colosseum where the marching band performed “Tusk”, which sparked her love for music. She was given the opportunity to record with Fleetwood Mac on their album, “The Dance”. On the last two tracks of their live performance, she got to come marching out on stage and perform with Fleetwood Mac!
Looking forward to her time at Ukiah High, Dr. Alvarez said with care “I’m not afraid to love you all and love being principal, I’m going to love my job”