Brent Kuykendall: First Year as Principal
• First-year principal at Peninsula High faced challenges head-on.
As the 2018-19 school year comes to a close, Peninsula Principal Brent Kuykendall wraps up his first year at the school. This year was filled with highs and lows, but Kuykendall stood fast and finished strong.
As a professional educator for around 20 years, Kuykendall has spent half of that time as a math and physical education teacher in both elementary school and middle school.
He was an administrator during the other half of his career, as assistant principal at Miraleste Intermediate for three years and later associate principal at Palos Verdes High.
He also had experience as principal of Ridgecrest Intermediate School for three years and as principal of Miraleste for two. While Kuykendall has varying experience working at schools, he has never been a high school principal until this year.
“I feel fortunate to at least have had one year of experience in working with high school students when I worked at PV High,” Kuykendall said.
“I think each level has different challenges and different aspects to the job that are more enjoyable. I have liked every level for different reasons. High school with just more students and more activities results in a lot more to keep track of and attend. There are a lot more things that you have to focus on and stay on top of,” he said.
“I will be very honest, I have absolutely had a blast this year at Peninsula.”
Between the teacher negotiations, student-led walkouts and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges paying a visit, Kuykendall has had a busy year.
“I think it is unheard of to have a year where there is no big event,” Kuykendall said. “This year we had a few of them but my biggest aspect of walking into this is that I am first and foremost an advocate for the students here at the school, but I am also an advocate for the teachers.
“When the negotiations were going on, and the district and the teachers were not on the same page, that was definitely a challenging situation. The negotiations were completely separate from the happenings on campus, so I did not really have a voice or say in that, but what I did was try to lessen the anxiety for the students and try to find ways to bring people together,” the principal said.
There were many challenges that were faced, but despite this being only his first year, Kuykendall was able to overcome the hardships and stand with his own judgments.
“I was incredibly proud of all of our students,” Kuykendall said. “The students that organized the walkout, the students that chose to walk out and the student that chose not to walk out. The way the Peninsula students carry themselves and behave not only on that day could not have been done at other schools,” he said.
Kuykendall recently obtained his educational doctorate degree, which was a big success for him. The program he was in lasted for three years and was focused on educational leadership.
Kuykendall had to attend courses for about two years that taught educational leadership, policies, procedures, practices and more. Throughout that time, he worked on his dissertation concerning the subject of trust between teachers and principals.
“My favorite part (about being the principal) is just hanging out and getting to know the students,” Kuykendall said.
“Just yesterday my morning started by talking to the yearbook team and giving them a pep talk about how proud I was with their outcome.
“Then we had boat races and seeing the students and staff out there smiling and laughing and having a good time was great.
“Then I was able to see a jazz performance and attend Senior Sunset. That is what I love. Seeing the growth of students but also getting to celebrate this stage of their lives.”