SCHOOLS

Meet Nicole DeWitt, new SRHS principal

Nicole Dewitt begins her first day as principal of Scripps Ranch High School today, Nov. 6. (photo courtesy of Nicole DeWitt)

Meet Nicole DeWitt, new SRHS principal

Nicole DeWitt takes the helm as the permanent principal of Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS) this week.

Dewitt comes to Scripps Ranch from Valhalla High School where she served as a vice principal, formally called assistant principal in the Grossmont High School District.

She said she has already met with some Scripps Ranch High faculty members and administrators, and will take a steady approach as she begins her reign.

“I know I definitely need to take my time learning more about Scripps Ranch High School as well as the community before making any huge moves or initiatives,” DeWitt said. “But I definitely want that focus on being a collective team and a collective community.”

DeWitt is focused on the need to unify all those involved with the high school, hoping to get everyone pulling in the same direction.

“I just feel that we need to find a way to unify everyone — whether it’s staff, students, parents, community members — to be really proud of our school and our accomplishments,” she explained. “So, figuring out a way to really make everybody on the same team and really from the same place, that’s going to be my primary focus when I first start.”  

Nicole DeWitt

  • Master’s degree, National University
  • Double bachelor’s degree, University of Redlands
  • Married to Randy DeWitt, a high school teacher
  • Two children, ages 8 and 11
  • Originally from Whittier
  • Attended Murrieta Valley High School
  • Loves The Beatles, all genres of music
  • Hobbies include yoga and camping

As a new principal, DeWitt realizes that listening is a key to understanding the needs of the school.

“I think my primary focus in coming in is on that climate and culture piece, and just trying to make sure that everybody has a voice and then that voice is heard and that we’re taking into consideration everybody’s needs,” she said.

DeWitt has some very positive impressions regarding the quality of education at the school. She noted that she has a few close friends who live in Scripps Ranch and have elementary school-aged children attending schools here. Therefore, she said, she knows about the high degree of education available and the high expectations.

“One of the reasons they moved to this community is because it has such a strong reputation within the schooling system of making sure students are prepared for what lies ahead after school,” she said. “So, I already know they have a very strong reputation for academic excellence, that they are a very close-knit community. I’m just really looking forward to being more a part of that community and learning more about all of the different strengths that all the stakeholders bring to the Scripps Ranch High School community. I’m definitely looking forward to this adventure.”

Having worked as an assistant principal for several years, DeWitt has been involved in running numerous programs that help students both academically as well as emotionally. She has also had responsibilities directly involving enforcement of rules. So, how would her former students describe her?

“I think that they would say that I’m tough but fair, and that I do care a great deal about them,” she said. “I definitely have established some strong relationships with students at Valhalla even though I have had to have disciplinary conversations with them. But I think they know that I’m trying to come from a good place.”

Once former SRHS Principal Ann Menna retired in June at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) began a step-by-step search for a new principal. The procedure for selecting a new high school principal is long and complicated (see bit.ly/2zmZqpt). In late summer, SDUSD released a statement saying that no experienced candidates met the requirements to lead SRHS. Instead, Beverly Greco and Walter Fairley, two retired SDUSD administrators, were put in place to temporarily share the responsibilities of principal while the district started the search process again.

SDUSD announced it selected DeWitt as the permanent SRHS principal in mid-October. DeWitt has a master’s degree in Cross Cultural Education from National University and a double bachelor’s degree in English Writing and Spanish from the University of Redlands. She was a high school teacher in the Grossmont Union High School District from 2002 to 2015, and was named 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year in that district. DeWitt served as vice principal at Valhalla High since July 2015.

As principal, Nicole Dewitt intends to work on unity and ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard. (photo courtesy of Nicole DeWitt)

DeWitt named a number of her responsibilities and accomplishments while at Valhalla High. She helped restructure the English learner program and helped create a new system of support for students who were credit deficient and needed to find opportunities to earn those credits back. She emphasized her role organizing more support groups and therapeutic services for students.

Originally, DeWitt began a career as an editorial assistant for Harcourt Brace, working in an office in downtown San Diego. But she discovered that, while it was something she wanted initially, she didn’t feel she was doing enough to give back to the community. Instead, she longed for the direct contact she had with young people that she experienced when working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program while in college.

“I really missed that interaction … So that’s when I started pursuing my teaching credential,” she said.

“It’s been a long journey,” DeWitt explained. “When I initially started as a teacher, I was very happy being in the classroom and I really enjoyed being with students, but I ended up getting more involved in being a coordinator of different programs. … I saw from these experiences that the way to make the biggest impact on students was by being an assistant principal and eventually a principal.” 

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