During a summer of great change and new direction San Andreas High School welcomed a familiar campus leader, Dorie Stratton, as its new principal.
Stratton, who served as the continuation school’s vice principal for the past three years, fills the position after Principal Ed Hensley retired in June.
Stratton has been with San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) for over 18 years, beginning as a teacher at Curtis Middle School. She then served as vice principal at Golden Valley Middle School, the middle school she attended while growing up in San Bernardino. (Stratton graduated from Cajon High School.)
She later led Pacific High School’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and its program for parent teens.
She returned to the classroom to teach at San Andreas High School, a continuation school, for six years, eventually becoming vice principal.
Teaching is a second career for Stratton who first worked in marketing.
“I did not like it,” she said of marketing. “I had been a substitute teacher so I applied for a teacher job. It was not something I planned, but that first year at Curtis I knew I loved it.”
She especially loved teaching math and helping students succeed in areas where they were previously struggling.
“I have a heart for the alternative education kids and for the kids who are struggling,” she said.
“It’s amazing being able to step into this role having been coached and mentored by Ed Hensley,” Stratton said. “He allowed me to co-lead the school with him the past couple of years.”
During those years San Andreas staff, led by Hensley and Stratton, developed multiple career pathways, including farming technology, agricultural business and health technology.
Stratton believes in students and what they can accomplish when they have an advocate who cares for them.
She saw this exemplified not only by Hensley but also by SBCUSD Boardwoman Margaret Hill. When Stratton’s sister was a pregnant teen attending San Andreas, Hill advocated for her success. Stratton’s sister graduated and is now a registered nurse.
“Those are big shoes to fill,” Stratton said of Hill and Hensley, “but I believe I have the heart to accomplish the task.”
Now that she’s principal, Stratton plans to continue the development of the school’s career pathways. Over the summer, the school completed an on-campus greenhouse that will be used by students of the farming technology and agricultural business pathways.
In the greenhouse, students will gain experience working with digital-age farming technologies while growing, harvesting and selling produce through a student-run business. (While students are learning from home due to the coronavirus campus closures, school staff and local business partners are growing and harvesting the produce for SBCUSD Nutrition Services and local businesses.)
With classroom facilities plus the greenhouse, more than 7,000 plants can be growing at various stages at any given time. This includes about 2,800 in the nursery, about 2,700 in the final stages and about 1,300 ready to be harvested each week.
A ribbon cutting for the greenhouse was postponed and is anticipated to be rescheduled for the spring.
Stratton is also excited that the school is ready to start a new healthcare pathway in which students will be certified in first aid and CPR. They will also be able to take several classes, such as medical terminology, that will get them started on the path to professional certifications for medical positions, such as EMT.
For the future, Stratton aims to develop closer relationships with San Bernardino Valley College and Crafton Hills College to further enhance the school’s career pathway programs and support students’ access and transition to higher education.
She would like to partner with Crafton Hills’ EMT program as well as its annual Herbivour Festival.