WPHS Welcomes Principal Martinez
By Melanie Schwartz
White Plains High School introduced a new important member of our community, Principal Martinez!
Mr. Martinez was born in the Dominican Republic, and he came to the United States when he was five years old. He grew up in Ossining, New York, just a 20-minute drive from White Plains. He worked at Ossining High School, where he was not only a teacher but also an adviser to many different clubs and activities.
He then became the Dean of Students at Ossining Middle School. Martinez says it was “an eye opening” opportunity that was a rewarding, but short lived, experience. He wanted to get back to the high school level, so he took advantage of an opportunity to become Assistant Principal at Fox Lane High School, where he says he enjoyed “supporting students in lots of different ways.”
His last stop before arriving at WPHS was Cornwall High School, where he served as principal. There, he implemented new ideas, including the creation of a student-centered group in which students played a big role in their community. He decided to come to WPHS because of its love of diversity and the amazing opportunities to help students. He feels White Plains is so unique because it represents the real world, and many people do not have the chance to see this within one high school. He felt it was “a match made in heaven.”
Principal Martinez is bringing what he has learned from all these different experiences to WPHS. For example, he plans to do a lot of listening to hear what the students, faculty, and WP community want from him. He plans to implement a “Principal’s Advisors Council,” where students will meet with him on a daily or weekly basis. He also plans to work closely with the local businesses in order to foster future internship opportunities.
Of course, 2020 is a year like no other, so we asked Principal Martinez what it has been like taking on a new position during a global pandemic. He said, "During a normal year coming into a new school is daunting enough, but in a pandemic it requires a unique approach with how you integrate yourself into the school community. You have to quickly do needs assessment and prioritize. So for me, what has been important is to ensure that our students and staff have a safe work environment to learn both in and out of the classroom. Although things look different this year, students need to know that the school is open, that learning is happening, and that they are supported."
Undoubtedly, opening school first remotely and then moving into a hybrid model has been challenging, and Principal Martinez is making an effort to connect with the school community in new ways. When asked about his strategies for doing this, he said, "The opportunities to interact with as many students has been limited. While I have been making it a point to be out during the lunches and walk the halls, I am not able to see students physically participating in many of the activities that makes a school 'come alive,' such as after school clubs, events, etc. I think masks have also presented a challenge for me because it is making it harder for me to learn staff names as fast as I would like, as well as students. I also have recognize that virtual interactions will be the best way to continue my introductions to the school community. I will be focusing on this during the month of November by 'popping into club meetings.'"
When asked about his vision for the school year, given the pandemic, Principal Martinez added, "I hope that while school is different this year, our students and staff know that things will get better and that we will strive to maintain a sense of community because we know that is what makes WPHS a an amazing place, even if it means finding creative ways virtually to stay connected."
On a personal note, Principal Martinez is a hiker, traveler, a Peloton enthusiast, and a self-described "foodie." He notes, "I am a foodie and a traveler! I love to try different types of foods as well travel, both which have been severely impacted by our current circumstances, and I look forward to being able to enjoy those once this is over."
Finally, Principal Martinez emphasizes that he does not want anyone to be afraid to stop by and say hello. “No one should hesitate to reach out to me, as I am a big cheerleader for this school, students, teachers, and anyone who tries to support the good work that is happening. This is an opportunity to seize growth!”
So Tigers, be sure to give Principal Martinez a warm welcome when you see him in the halls!