While the Hollister Fire Department spoke with Marguerite Maze Middle School students after a mischief maker pulled a fire alarm as a prank, a new program to recognize students with a special lunch was underway. Principal Diana Herbst has worked to create a more positive environment since starting earlier this year.
Herbst started a new program where each teacher chooses one student to eat lunch with. On Oct. 9, 32 teachers paired up with students in sixth through eighth grades for the first lunch.
“The teacher chooses a student who maybe wouldn’t get recognized for attendance or academics,” Herbst said, adding that it’s a way of acknowledging them as a valuable part of the classroom.
Sixth-grade teacher Teresa Stevens had lunch with her student Kayla Gonzalez. She said she chose Kayla because she “shows personal responsibility, respect, integrity, determination and empowerment.”
“It is just really special to spend some time out of the classroom with the children,” Stevens said. Gonzalez said she was pleased to be chosen and tell her teacher about her time at the county fair.
Herbst, who took on the principal position at the start of the school year, said she wants to set a positive tone in the school after several years in which Maze has struggled with attendance and disciplinary problems. She aims to establish a smoother transition from eighth to ninth grade when students move from middle school to high school. She said she uses the “same rules, a lot of the same expectations” as she did during her two years as a vice principal at San Benito High School before joining Maze.
Hollister School District Trustee Robert Bernosky spoke to BenitoLink about the importance of the lunch gathering.
“They are getting recognized for just being students, it is not about athletics or academics,” he said. “It is just about them being the best they can be.”
Eighth-grade teacher Kathleen Sampson attended the lunch with her student Toure Ajamu, who said he was glad he was chosen because he doesn’t always think he is doing well in class, and this made him feel good. Sampson said she thought it was special and was happy Herbst initiated the program at the school.
“We want the kids to know they are important,” she said.