Diana Goularte and Tricia Palomino
Office staff members Diana Goularte and Tricia Palomino discuss their journey to MVHS and the bond that they’ve formed.
Diana Goularte, executive assistant to the principal, and Tricia Palomino, AP secretary, both work at MVHS’s front office. Their workplaces are right next to each other, and this proximity has fostered a close relationship between them. On top of working close to each other, Goularte and Palomino have experienced similar paths to MVHS. Both women have two kids of their own, and both were introduced to their jobs at MVHS after volunteering at their kids’ schools.
At MVHS, Goularte assists Principal April Scott and is in charge of setting up Scott’s appointments, emailing meeting reminders to the admin team and the staff, sending emails to students, covering for missing administration and teachers and in general acting like the office manager. Palomino supports Assistant Principal Nico Flores. She manages Flores’ calendar, collects confiscated phones, and has several responsibilities similar to Goularte’s.
Not only do the two women help each other inside the office, but they also have grown as friends. Watch the video below to learn about their relationship and how it developed.
Assistant Principal Secretary describes the ins and outs of her job.
The typical student curses the alarm clock, as it bridges the great divide between their restful sleep and the bleak, uninviting school day. And so one suits up for the educational venture ahead: the weight of a plushy blanket is replaced with a backpack and bedroom slippers are discarded for beat-up sneakers. This routine is crammed in a rush, and one flies out the door fearing a tardy.
Contrary to the hasty and urgent student, however, Assistant Principal Secretary Lisa Mueller is alert and awake before the crack of dawn: at approximately 4:30 a.m. in the morning, Mueller and her husband, business teacher Jeff Mueller, leave their Morgan Hill home to head to MVHS and avoid the sluggish traffic that only increases with each passing year as more and more people move into the Bay Area. Around 6:30 a.m., she is already situated in her office, clearing drop forms and authorizing the day’s open period off-campus passes, while the majority of the students are slumbering away in their beds.
Mueller may officially be a secretary for Assistant Principal Michael Martinez, but her tasks concern almost every section of administration. Radiating a kind of omnipresence throughout the office, she assists Martinez in student schedules, arranges his own schedule herself, works with Athletic Trainer and Health Clerk Javier Margarito as a part-time health aid and eases the burden of guidance counseling by answering any simpler student questions that come her way. As she concisely phrases it, she does anything anybody asks her to do — and that can certainly be challenging to uphold, especially in the scenario of student class requests.
“When I tell you that the process that we follow takes a long time to get all the classes built and everyone into it, [sometimes] students come in and say ‘Well, I want to move to another class,’” Mueller said. “When we can’t do it, there’s a frustration level for the student. Well, I feel that frustration too for you and for us. It’s both sides.”
Yet ultimately, it is the student body that brings Mueller back each year, and presently, her tenth year at MVHS. Watching young people makes herself younger, she believes, although she certainly doesn’t “see” herself in any of the students. According to Mueller, there is a prominent difference between the mindsets of today’s students compared to her own high school peers. Back in the day, a high school graduation signaled a conclusion to one’s education, as graduates immediately embarked on the road of adulthood: immediate employment was a priority and higher education a secondary interest. Now, she believes students display a much broader focus on college and an educational future after high school.
“To watch that [change in mindset] and see the world open up has expanded your brains, your wants and your needs to a different level than we ever thought of when I went to high school [is so] interesting to watch,” Mueller said. “[Also I can] see what’s coming for my grandchildren.”
During her own high school experience, Mueller had wanted to become a veterinarian, but the copious amount of schooling the career required — an eight extra years — discouraged her, and so she worked and retired from IBM, a computer manufacturing company, for the majority of her professional career. Mueller’s husband, already teaching at MVHS, urged her to apply for the AP Secretary position, a suggestion to which she followed and doesn’t regret to this day.
“Students want to come back after they’ve left and even not just one year,” Mueller said. “They’ll come back after they’ve been gone for ten years. [To] me that says something about the school, because students want to come back and visit.”
Feature photo by Helen Chao.
MVHS’ registrar explains what she did before MVHS and what she loves most about her job.
Correction 10/23/17 11:06 a.m. Registrar Patricia Kruse was a substitute clerical, not a substitute teacher.
Most students only hear her name once they become seniors, when the arduous process of applying to college begins. During the first semester of the year, Patricia Kruse mostly helps the seniors with college applications: handling SSR requests, sending transcripts and ordering diplomas. While first semester is the most stressful time of the year for the seniors, for Kruse, second semester is the busiest time of the year because she has to enroll every incoming student for the next school year.
“Everybody always thought first semester was a lot of work because of college and all this other stuff going on, but it’s not,” Kruse said. “It’s second semester because at at that point, all of a sudden the office are handling five classes of students, not four.”
But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t felt the weight of the first semester. She goes through the same feelings that many MVHS students do — the stress and the anxiety that students face over the course of the year.
“I go through the same highs and lows, stresses that all of our students do, we take that journey together,” Kruse said. “It starts off very tense and everybody’s nervous and ... it seems to always end very well. I always tell everybody that come ... March and April, when you start getting your acceptance letters, then your bigger problem is gonna be where you’re gonna go. Nobody ever believes me when I say that in August and September.”
To take care of such emotions, Kruse lives by two rules: prioritizing what is most important and leaving her work at school when she leaves for the day. The latter took her the longest to accomplish, something that was difficult in her previous career as a salesperson. For 30 years, the majority of Kruse’s career was managing sales people all over the U.S. Trying to separate her job from her home life was not easy with her hectic schedule . She felt as if her time was dictated by businesses all over the country; for them, taking time away from work was unknown.
“That takes a lot of practice. I go and enjoy my personal life, family has always surrounded me and supported me.” Kruse said.
During her career as a manager, Kruse was a parent and volunteer at MVHS until her son graduated in 1996. After she retired, Kruse resorted to staying home with her husband, dedicating time to herself for a little while. But the routine of staying at home soon became a little mundane.
“My husband worked from home … and after about a couple years he looked at me one day and said ‘you really need to go do something, like get a life,’” Kruse said.
Her mother suggested a job in FUHSD, since her family has been in the area since 1965. That being said, she picked up on the offer and started to be a substitute clerical around the district for a couple of years, which led her to decide to apply for a full time job.
“This wasn’t the first job I applied for,” Kruse said, “This was the eighth job I applied for, so it’s kind of serendipitous that I ended up here.”
What is most rewarding about her job at MVHS, though, is the students. She fondly remembers a student whom she grew close to her first year on the job.
“I’ll never forget this, it was Running of the Bulls ... I had a student come in, and her mother was with her. And she was going to be a senior. And she stood in front of my desk and I looked at her and I said, ‘Can I help you?’” Kruse said. “I didn’t know her ... And her mother is standing there and her mother says, ‘Well, tell her.’ She started to try and talk to me and she started crying. And … I’m thinking ‘what did I do oh jeez I already made a student cry, crushing dreams, ruining lives, here we go.’”
It turns out that the girl had been missing a grade from her unofficial transcript, which she had received at ROTB. The grade had been from a sport she had participated in the previous year and it brought her a lot of stress as the sport had been very difficult. She felt as if her efforts to get into the team vanished.
“The sport she was in, if you met her, you would never think she would be in that sport because it’s very aggressive,” Kruse said.
Kruse tried to calm the student down and assured her that they would sort everything out with the coach and administration. She asked the student to meet with her again at the end of the first week of school to check in with her. Then, decided to venture a little further. Since the student was a senior, Kruse knew she would be working with her over the year anyways, so she asked if the student would be willing to meet with her every week so she could get to know her better.
“That day forward, every week,” Kruse said. “She came in to see me, and to this day … we’re still very good friends.”
Feature photo by Helen Chao.