Written by Brianna Aguayo and Annie Wagner
As the school year comes to an end, Principal Kennel has announced her step-down from her position at M-A. We interviewed her as an opportunity to say farewell and reflect on her time at M-A.
How will you be spending your time after your departure at M-A? Do you plan on continuing to stay within the education field?
I will be staying in the education field as I cannot imagine doing anything else. My next opportunity is with the Sequoia Union High School District in a unique role as the TIDE Academy Principal and Executive Director of Small Schools and Innovation. My focus for the foreseeable future will be TIDE Academy, and I love that I will still be working for the best outcomes for students in our collective community.
What were some of your favorite memories at M-A?
- The day-to-day visiting classes in-person to see excellent instruction from our teachers—whether a Socratic seminar in English or History classes, a cool Chemistry experiment, or a project-based lesson.
- For Athletics & Extracurriculars, it was being part of the experience when the M-A Bears Football team won the state championship in 2018, winning state titles by the M-A Girls Wrestling, and watching nail-biting M-A girls and boys basketball games.
- Seeing students’ work at the annual Art Department Showcase and the various performances from our Drama program.
- Hearing our students represent M-A on various panels.
- Seeing 700+ students walk out in unity in November 2016 following the presidential election. This is a favorite memory because I was proud that students from all backgrounds came together to engage in peaceful protest, even though I could not condone leaving school. I think it was important for students to understand they had a choice to make to participate or not, and if they did decide to participate, to understand the natural consequences and responsibility, like being marked absent from school.
- The prom we hosted on May 7th, during this pandemic year. I was so happy to see we could do something extraordinary for students, safely, during a year that has been anything but ordinary.
What is something you’ve learned over your time at M-A?
I’ve been at M-A for 19 years as a teacher, dean, vice principal, and principal. With each role, I’ve grown professionally. I’ve learned what a special, unique, and dynamic community M-A is, and how we can harness innovative thinking, student voices, and examine all we do with a lens focused on equity. So, M-A is a great school for all the students we serve; when we say our motto is Strength in Diversity, we aren’t just celebrating it, but that our students are living it.
What will you miss most about M-A, and what do you hope continues to appear at M-A past your departure?
I will miss the students, especially their tenacity, dedication, creativity, intelligence, and advocacy for humanity. I will also miss the lifelong connections with my colleagues on the M-A staf. I hope that after my departure, M-A will still be a beautiful campus with lots of support, extracurriculars, electives, and academics to offer students, and the bell schedule will continue to be reenvisioned. Flex time was my thing for sure!
What messages do you have for the current and future students of M-A?
M-A is a great school. As Principal, I have had the pleasure to see the global perspective of all we do. I am excited about what’s to come, especially the 9th grade course pathway, which will include our new Ethnic Studies, Multicultural Literature, and Voice English classes. If students engage with all that M-A has to offer—extracurriculars, electives, academic programs, after-school supports, mental health supports, teachers, staff—you will carve the best high school experience for yourselves. And, next year, this is especially important as you come out of this unordinary pandemic year, and as M-A comes back better and stronger.
Any last comments?
Leaving M-A is very bittersweet for me. It was a very hard decision to make, and while my next role will be a principalship with some other district responsibilities, it will free up some nights and weekends for my family which is what led me to make this transition to begin with. I started at M-A when my son was one year old, and he’ll be 20 soon, so needless to say, it’s going to be a tough transition to leave. I’ll fondly regard my time at M-A as a very special and, ultimately, a highlight of my career in education.