No longer temporary

Lee Romero officially assumes the role of BVH’s Principal

On December 2nd BVH principal Lee Romero installs the new nameplate on his office door. (Uriel Lopez)

On Nov. 14, the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) Board of Trustees approved Lee Romero as BVH’s official principal. He initially began his term as BVH’s interim principal on Oct. 3. Romero coming out of retirement to assume this role came as a surprise to many, but no one was as surprised as Romero himself.

“When I retired four years ago, [the SUHSD district] called me to be interim principal [at several different schools]. Then they asked me to come back here to be a principal. Being retired I said no, but they convinced me to come back,” Romero said. “Once I came back as the interim principal, they asked me if I would consider staying. I said no, but circumstances changed my mind. I decided to throw my hat and [said] ‘yeah, I’ll stay’.”

Romero received a 5-0 vote from the SUHSD board, meaning all five board members approved his return to BVH as the principal. His return to the campus was a very welcomed surprise to BVH staff. For instance, Assistant Principal (AP) Jason Josafat knew of Romero for a long time but never got to work with him personally. He explains why he believes Romero decided to become the official principal.

“Mr. Romero came here under the premise that he was going to be the interim principal. But him being an alumni of the school and seeing how the students, the staff, the admin and the teachers work together for the best interest of the kids, he realized that this is a pretty special place,” Josafat said. 

Romero is not only an alumnus, but he is also a former teacher at Bonita Vista Middle. His history with BVH has been a contributing factor to his decision to become the official principal, however there were two specific circumstances that were the turning points of his decision to return to BVH. 

“The first staff meeting that we had on Oct. 3, I came in here and met the staff and introduced myself and they were so pleasant. They were kidding around about me coming back and all this kind of stuff. But as I went on, many staff members came up to me and said they would really want me to come back,” Romero said.

The other event that strongly influenced Romero’s decision was the assemblies held during the start of his interim job. Josafat and Romero himself mentioned his excitement for and involvement in the school assemblies. 

“The students reacted positively towards me. I had a lot of students come up to me and say, ‘I wish you were our principal’. I went home that night and I talked to my wife about it. We both agreed that it might be good to come back,” Romero said. 

However, coming out of retirement also comes with many changes. After returning back to working as principal, Romero finds himself a tad overwhelmed. 

“When you retire, you get maybe one or two texts or emails a day. Now, I get about 100 texts or emails a day,” Romero said. “So it’s overwhelming because a lot of people have questions for you. They want to ask you stuff, they want to talk to you.”

Romero acknowledges the stress of these responsibilities and the possible challenges he is going to face. Coming out of retirement to work full time is a challenge in itself. On top of that, Romero wishes to meet expectations and inspire his staff. He questions what he needs to do to accomplish that. 

“I feel a sense of responsibility. Number one to the students, but also the staff,” Romero said. “I always believe that to be a good leader, you have to inspire people to do their best, because it’s easy to just be average and do your normal, minimal job. But I know from sports, a good coach inspires you to do more.”

One of Romero’s biggest priorities within his role is listening to the ideas people want to contribute. In the upcoming weeks he intends to have meetings with the staff to discuss important topics. Josafat explains the questions he is asking BVH staff and his appreciation for them. 

“It’s really cool. He’s opening up conferences to anyone who wants to talk to him. He will ask them to answer three questions. What do you love about Bonita? What do you think needs to change about Bonita? And how can we make that change?” Josafat said. 

Being asked these questions has proven to be very important to his staff. AP secretary Mayra Valenzuela mentions how she feels about Romero involving everyone in this way. 

“I think what’s nice is that he takes the time to speak with us. He’s taken time out of his schedule to [ask] what we [the staff] can do better for the school. Asking us what we think. I like that he gets a little bit of everyone’s input,” Valenzuela said. 

Continuing to prioritize listening, Romero wants to further ask these questions to the students. He believes the students’ voices to be one of the most important and always leaves his door open for them, no appointment necessary. 

“I don’t want to come in here thinking that I know everything. I’m going to make decisions based on what we as a staff believe is right. And I know I’ve got a staff and I’ve got to cater to the staff, but everything that we do is what’s good for students here. So I need to hear student voices,” Romero said. 

Once Romero finds the commonalities in the answers to his questions, that is when he will start moving forward with those changes on campus. There are a lot of events and changes Romero and BVH staff are looking forward to.

“I feel like Mr. Romero has been very open with us, bringing a very positive attitude in the office and with the students. He likes to connect well with all of us and get to know us not just as colleagues, but [to a point] where it feels like a home,” Valenzuela said. 

Both Josafat and Valenzuela mentioned the new and improved energy they feel Romero adds to the school. They stress how they feel he fits extremely well into the BVH campus and environment, adding some much needed spirit. 

“I think that he brings in an energy here that’s going to build upon what we already have, which is a really good school, and in many cases great, but he can take it to the next level. I’m really excited to see that,” Josafat said.