On Wednesday, May 27, incoming MVLA Superintendent Jeff Harding visited the school’s campus. Harding has extensive experience as a school administrator. He was the Founding Principal of Windsor High School in 1995, Assistant Superintendent of Windsor Unified School District from 2004-2008 and is currently the outgoing Superintendent of the Healdsburg Unified School District, a position he has held since 2008. With current MVLA Superintendent Barry Groves retiring at the end of this school year, Harding will be taking over on Wednesday, July 1. After Harding’s initial greeting on May 27 with Broken Box, ASB and Talon, a Talon reporter sat down with Harding for a brief interview.
What prompted your decision to come to the MVLA District?
The main reason is [that] this is such an exciting place… You look at the kind of innovation that’s happening here, you [see] the excitement that’s happening in the community, the business community. [And] the schools are exciting. This is a wonderful opportunity to be part of that excitement.
How has the experience of changing school districts multiple times been [like]?
It’s difficult to leave because I have such long relationships in my hometown, but coming back here is a bit like coming home because I grew up down here; my wife went to Stanford and Woodside High [and] we have friends down here, so this was a way to get both the connection with our past and the excitement of what’s happening down here.
You said you grew up around here and you went to Cupertino High School. Can you tell me a bit about your childhood and interests?
I can tell you that my high school friends are some of the best friends that I have. There are 10 of us; we get together at least once a year, Cupertino High class of ‘76. We remain friends and we travel together. We go on adventure trips together and remain close.
My high school experience was some of the best years of my life and I’d like to see that that happen to all of the students here.
What about college? What did you major in and how was your experience?
I went to Berkeley and it was a very exciting place to be. I had a fabulous experience and I studied out of the College of Natural Resources. So my background in the natural environment and education related to the natural environment is very important to me. I know [LAHS] offers [several periods] in AP Environmental Studies. It’s very important, that’s great to see. Then I was a high school principal for nine years. I really enjoy being on a high school campus. It’s a pleasure to [be around high school students].
This is a larger school district than the one you’re coming from, right?
This is larger than what I’m coming from, but Windsor is quite a bit larger than this. I was the Assistant Superintendent in Windsor, and it has 6,000 students. There’s 3,800 here, to give you that comparison. So that was appealing. There was a number of things that brought us here. One [is] the size, one is the engagement of the schools and the community and one is sort of coming home. It’s a combination of factors.
What do you most look forward to?
I look forward to watching students excel [and] do their thing. I haven’t heard the music program yet, I’ve heard great things about the music department. I haven’t seen any of the plays. Today I got the satisfaction of walking around and seeing students perform in classrooms, but I just feed off that stuff.