To the outsider looking in, little has changed on the campus of Oakdale Junior High since school recessed in May to start summer vacation. As the home to Oakdale Joint Unified School District’s seventh and eighth grade classes, it is the only campus within the district that transitions its student body by roughly 50 percent each school year.
This year the campus will also see a transition in the way of administration as former Vice Principal Jon Webb steps into the Principal position and Sierra View fourth grade teacher Catherine Medlin settles into her new office as OJHS Vice Principal.
“I couldn’t feel better,” Principal Webb said after the recent annual Round-Up event, welcoming students back to school. “I have great teachers and a great staff. Marc Malone, our superintendent, has a defined vision and goals to foster student success throughout the district.
“Great leadership produces defined targets for success and Marc continues to define those areas. It’s motivating to be a part of his team and see OJUSD be one of the best districts around.”
The 2015-16 school year marks Webb’s 12th year as an educator and his fifth year with OJUSD.
Just across the hall, Medlin is hard at work making the transition from classroom to ‘office’ staff. With 20 years of teaching under her belt it is a change which will take some getting used to, yet one she is ready for.
“It’s just like being a brand new teacher,” Medlin said, as she settled into her desk. “That excitement is the same. It’s palpable.
“These are the people I want to work for,” she added of OJHS and OJUSD. “I know they have my back. I loved my teaching job. I had every intention of continuing to teach until something made itself available.”
Medlin shared she returned to school to pursue her Administrative Credential last fall. She completed the process at Stanislaus State in late May.
“I knew I wanted to stay in the district and was willing to wait. I never expected this. If nothing came up, I was still working in a job that I love,” she said. “It all just kind of fell into place rather quickly for me.”
Sixteen of her 20 years were spent primarily with fourth grade students during her years as an OJUSD teacher. Prior to that Medlin spent four years as a teacher with Petersen Alternative Center for Education (PACE) at Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall.
“Seventh to twelfth grade is really where my passion is,” Medlin said. “The reason I became an elementary teacher is because I became a mom.
“This (joining OJHS) was not intimidating to me at all,” she continued. “This is an experience I’ve had before.”
Equally passionate about the student body, Webb shared his vision and goals as the newest leader on campus.
“Our goals will continue to be led by our desire to be the best junior high in the state of California,” he said. “The best teachers providing the best instruction, in the safest environment while motivating students to strive for greatness.”
Key at this level, he added, is getting the students to believe in their own potential.
“The biggest challenge is they don’t see what they can become,” Webb noted. “They don’t see that greatness within themselves. Witnessing when they start to believe in themselves and bounding back from adversity is my most enjoyable part.”
“My biggest goal is to make these students lifelong learners and they are,” Medlin stated, sharing stories of students returning to her classroom to share where they have gone in life, be it a hairstylist or doctor.
“I hope my biggest impact is on our students,” Webb concluded. “I love this town. Being born and raised in Oakdale is an area of pride. We have potential world leaders and world changers attending this campus. Motivating all our kids to be great and face challenges and handle adversity is primary for me.”