The 2014-15 school year has gotten off to a quick start for newly appointed Oakdale High School Vice-Principal of Supervision and Attendance, Jim Lake. The recently appointed VP has just a little over three weeks under his Administrator belt with Oakdale Joint Unified School District but he has found settling in anything but difficult.
“I love it here,” Lake said from his sparsely decorated new office. “It’s a great team. They all care about students and love kids, that makes it easy on everyone.”
The Galt High School alum and Stanislaus State graduate, while new to Oakdale is not new to the administrator role. Lake has spent 14 years as an educator, seven of which have been as an administrator. His most recent position was in the role of Principal of Norfolk High School in Norfolk, Nebraska for the past two years.
“I grew up in the Manteca/Modesto area,” he said of returning to California. “So while I’m new to Oakdale, I like the tight knit community.”
Due to the sequence of events and the quickness of his hiring, Lake’s wife and five children still remain in Nebraska until he is able to secure housing for them here in the Central Valley.
“It’s busy work,” the Vice-Principal said of his role. “I work primarily with the ninth graders. There’s growing pains learning to be a young adult. How to deal with teachers who expect more.
“Parents are supportive when they come in. That’s encouraging.”
Lake is also in charge of the school safety plan. Something, he shared, he has overseen and been passionate about his whole career.
Lake identifies two key components in the area of school safety. First, ensuring facility and grounds are inspected and safe with no major hazards. Second, monitoring students to and from class.
“That is the biggest part,” he said in reference to monitoring. “Campus cameras are not a way to eliminate problems, they’re a way to identify problems.”
During his career, the safety-focused Lake has had experience in working with gangs, as well as drug and alcohol issues.
“The goal is making school safe for everyone. If you have to eliminate those who don’t, then that’s what we do. Everyone then benefits”
While he recognizes the school’s current safety plan as just needing updating, Lake views the campus and its practices as pretty well developed. The hot spot he is particularly concerned with is student driver and pedestrian safety.
“Students need to very wary of the way they drive,” he said. “I have seen some horrible things happen because students don’t follow the rules. The rules are there not just to keep them safe, but everyone around them safe.
“There’s nothing worse than going to student funerals and I’ve been to 13,” he shared.
Taking a proactive approach, Lake, along with the other campus administrators maintain a campus presence during the lunch hour.
“Every day at lunch I worry,” he said. “I care about these children, which may sound odd because I have five of my own. But… I do. I care about them like they are my own.
“When they know you care they are more willing to listen and follow direction,” he summarized of his overall approach in gaining student trust.
Overall, Lake shared he misses his family but the campus staff and student body have made him feel right at home.
“The students and the faculty are nice, open and friendly,” he said. “The students for the most part are outgoing. They’ve come up to shake my hand... introduce themselves. I’m impressed by their behaviors and overall attitude toward adults.”