Typically nowadays, adults are always trying to figure out new ways to relate to kids and teenagers. Many adults may opt for the unfunny dad joke, making fun of teen slang and behaviors, or worst of all the “back in my day” stories. So many teenagers just collectively rolled their eyes after reading that. The point is, not many adults would embrace their look and show up to a Pitbull concert dressed as Pitbull’s doppelganger. That is exactly what new Principal of UC High Mike Paredes did when the opportunity presented itself. Give the man credit for embracing his look, in his own words “being bald before it was cool” and channeling his inner “Mr. Worldwide.”
Paredes has returned to UC High, where he served as a Vice Principal from 2013-2018, to succeed previous Principal Jeff Olivero with clearly defined goals in mind. Chief among those was stabilizing the situation after the tragic passing of Donna Fallon. “One of the things that is important to me is honoring legacy. The legacy of Mr. Olivero, and obviously the legacy of Mrs. Fallon, and looking to embody what she stood for,” he said. In addition, Mr. Paredes has been charged with heading the return to in-person school for UC High students, which is no small task. “There’s a heavy weight to bear with all things Covid, and coming back into a six period day, and a late start. I’m really proud of all the adjustments our Centurions are making,” he said.
Even in the midst of challenges, Paredes is happy to be back. “There was no other place I’d rather come back to than UC,” Paredes stated before pausing and sharing an answer so real you could see his eyes shimmer as he thought about his next words, how they made him feel, and who they reminded him of. “The loss of my friend, Donna Fallon, was one of the key reasons I applied for the position. I felt moved to. I could not be more excited for what the future holds for UC, especially after all that we’ve been through.”
When settling into his new position, Paredes has focused on establishing relationships with the community. “Relationships have always been important to me. Without relationships I think it is hard to have meaningful conversations with people. You can talk about your vision all you want, but if you don’t connect with people it makes the job harder,” said Paredes. Forming meaningful relationships starts with communication. Paredes knows this, and it is reflected in his goals for the school. “I want to hear from students, staff, and parents about what we want to see here at UC High and how we build a stronger school community. I want our vision to be our vision. I want a UC vision and not just Mr. P’s vision,” he continued.
Previous positions as the Dean of Students at Clairemont High, Special Ed teacher at Lincoln High, as well as the Principal at the Monarch School, a school serving San Diego’s homeless children, have prepared Mr. P for the role as principal at UC High. Paredes emphasized how important it is to make the education provided fit the students, instead of forcing students to conform to one education style. Paredes said, “My classroom didn’t have to be my classroom. Learning can occur anywhere,” when referring to ways that learning can be adapted to meet different individual’s needs.