“Who’s that guy?”
Interview by Leslie Weinstein on April 13, 2014. Thank you, Mr. Naulls, for allowing me to share with our parents a little bit extra about their Principal at Thomas Starr King Middle School….the best middle school in the district!
Q: How long have you lived in Los Angeles?
A: I’m a native of California.
Q: Where were you before King?
A: Garfield High in East Los Angeles
Q: Why did you decide on the teaching profession?
A: I credit my mother for inspiring me to finally take the plunge into education and teaching in particular. She always saw something in me that she felt would serve kids well that maybe I didn’t realize myself. She was a part time teacher in a small parochial school and she always wanted at least one of us to follow suit and embrace that vocation. Well, after ten years of persuasion and cajoling, I relented and I have never regretted a single day in this profession.
Q: What do you love most about being a King Lion?
A: Number one is the kids. Kingsters are a good group of kids and can be very engaging. Secondly, and very important, is the passion of the families. I see the involvement with their children’s school experience within the Friends of King, on the campus with our lunch patrol, to the great turnouts at our Open Houses and at home, helping the kids with their homework.
Q: As a mom at King, you said something at Orientation that really had a impact on me. You said…”they need you now more than ever.” I know what it meant to me, but would you elaborate for the folks reading this?
A: Middle school is a big transition from elementary school. In elementary school, there’s one teacher to keep the child grounded and there’s basically the same group of kids that the child interacts with on a daily basis. The same 23+ kids for the entire year. But in middle school, this same child now has five or six teachers, with five or six classrooms of different children. There are many more children around them now, influencing and affecting their choices, and their “one voice” to keep them grounded is the parent. They’re testing different boundaries now and this “one voice”, of love and understanding, will guide them to make better choices.
Q: How’s King compared to the middle school that you went to?
A: Interesting question. I went to a small parochial school with maybe 300 kids. The benefit of that was I was a big fish in a small pond and to be completely honest, I liked that. However, with the opportunities that are available now, there’s no comparison which is better. Some of what they’re asking kids to do now is high school level and above. For example: within the Common Core standards, not only are they required to get the right answer, but they must defend and explain how they got there. The skills required of them now will carry them through to the next level and beyond.
Q: What is your vision for King?
A: I want King to continue to be a community of vibrant and engaged learning for all students. I envision our school as an academic environment that surpasses all other middle schools in our district, where everyone feels welcome and is valued for their contributions toward what makes us great. Academic achievement can be attained at any school. What really distinguishes an institution is how it reaches that destination and the enrichment it affords its students along the way. Together we are establishing the foundation for that and I welcome the opportunity to steward that process. Nothing is impossible if we continue our collaboration towards a singular purpose. That singular purpose is to make King the best and most desireable.
Q: Last question: What is your all time favorite singing group?
A: The Beatles
Q: Awesome! Mine too!
Mr. Naulls, thank you for your time and insights….what an unexpected treat!