Since 2000, Campo has seen many changes: in style, in facilities, in staff. One thing that has remained constant is the leadership of Principal Carol Kitchens. Now, after 39 years in education, Kitchens is stepping down.
Kitchens announced her retirement, effective at the end of this year, at a staff meeting on March 14th. She said her decision was motivated by a desire to spend more time with her elderly mother and two grown children. Although it was a “hard decision,” she is confident the school “is in the best shape its ever been.”
Her retirement marks an end of an era; the 2009 Secondary School Administrator of the Year, Kitchen’s dedication has shaped the campus for over a decade. Said English teacher Tina Mayer, “she’s our rock, she’s our anchor… she’s the one who made this campus what it is.”
Making Campo what it is hasn’t been easy. When Kitchens first came to Campo as a Vice Principal in 1994, the school had only 800 students, “a lot of issues with students being out of class,” and a lack of school pride, said Kitchens. Now, she says “the one thing we have at Campo, is we have school pride.”She added that the past twelve years have seen a great improvement in academics, an increase in the variety of electives, and the development of the C-PAC and Soda Aquatic Center. Her biggest challenge, though, has been preserving programs in the face of budget cuts.
Kitchens has worked in education for 39 years as a history teacher, vice principal, and principal. Of those years, 17 of those spent at Campolindo and one at Las Lomas. Although she has no concrete plans for retirement, she looks forward to spending time with her family, travelling, and having more free time.
“Everyone was completely shocked,” said Mayer of the announcement. “We knew it was coming, but we thought we still had a few years.”
Replacing Kitchens is “going to be very tough,” said Parent Club President Linda O’Brien. “She puts in a huge amount of overtime.” According to O’Brien, the district is planning to advertise the open position as specific to Campolindo, rather than the usual policy of advertising it as an administrative position in the general district, which can result in a “shuffle” of administrators between schools.
The district is in the process of forming a committee to explore potential candidates for the position. Kitchen’s replacement will be announced by the end of this school year.