LINDSAY – Freshmen weren’t the only ones experiencing their first day at Lindsay High School on Monday. Not only was Aug. 13 the first day of school for new principal George Tapenas, it was also his first day of school in the district.
Tapenas brings 34 years of education experience, almost exclusively at the high school level. He said he enjoys educating students at the high school level and was drawn to Lindsay Unified to be part of a new model for education in the district’s performance based system (PBS). The system is customized for each student, called “learners” in Lindsay, so that those wanting more challenging work can move ahead while those falling behind pace can get the attention they need. Unlike traditional classrooms where teachers talk and students listen, the performance-based system is student-centric. Each learner is responsible for their own learning while the teacher, called a learning facilitator, is responsible for mentoring those learners who are struggling and guiding those who are not through the process of demonstrating if they know enough in one area to move on to the next.
“The PBS model that this district is trying to incorporate is so different and innovative,” Tapenas said. “The challenge of doing something that hasn’t been done before really excites me.”
Tapenas began his career teaching at Colton High School in San Bernardino County before moving to Banning High School in Riverside County. After two stints in Southern California, Tapenas decided to move north. He worked for many years at Fortuna High School in Humbolt County where he was a history teacher, physical education teacher, head football coach, athletic director and eventually principal.
“I’ve had quite the career, it’s been fun,” Tapenas said.
Lindsay High School is Tapenas’ fourth principal position after three stops across California. In addition to Fortuna, Tapenas was a principal at Inderkum High School in Sacramento and then at Marina Village Middle School in El Dorado Hills for five years (2012-2017). After spending the last five years in an affluent Northern California community, Tapenas said he wanted to work in a school district where he could impact the lives of students in a meaningful way.
“I needed to work with a student population that needed innovation and where my efforts would matter in a huge way,” Tapenas said. “Marina Village was a very affluent community, so I needed that change. I need to make a difference when I go to work.”
Tapenas said his goals for the school year include bringing the high school’s community together, having fun and challenging himself and his staff to provide the best education for their learners. He said he wants to hear from every voice in the community including parents, learners, learning facilitators and classified staff to make sure everyone is focused on learning.
“I’m looking forward to building relationships and making connections that will create a better school for all of our learners and learning facilitators,” Tapenas said.