“It’s clearly a school and a District that is doing all the right things in the middle of turbulent times in education,” said just-hired Alhambra High School Assistant Principal Tom Doppe on Tuesday, a day after the Martinez Unified School District Board approved him for the position.
Doppe hails from neighboring Concord: he graduated from Concord High School in 1998 and then returned a few years later to that campus as a teacher. He earned his undergraduate from Cal State East Bay (then Cal State Hayward) after initially attending DVC, and received his teaching credentials in 2004. He spent seven years as an English teacher at Concord High, and during that time, he furthered his higher education with a MA from St. Mary’s College in 2007.
“Tom…came highly recommended to us by the principal of Concord High School Gary McAdam,” said Rick Rubino, Martinez Unified School District’s Assistant Superintendent, in charge of Human Resources.
Doppe said he opted for St. Mary’s graduate program entitled Teaching Leadership, which is described by the college as an “innovative degree program offers working professionals the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree, within one year, from the prestigious Kalmanovitz School of Education, while maintaining a regular teaching schedule.”
“It’s a program designed to enable teachers and administrators to be change agents within their campus…to bring about school improvement and a lot of [the coursework] transfers over to administration,” Doppe explained.
Two years after graduating from the St. Mary’s program, Doppe earned his administrative credential by taking the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA), similar to the bar exam for attorneys, but for those seeking to advance into school administration roles.
“I passed that test in October of 2009 because I was looking to made a move into administration,” said Doppe, adding that he had applied for an administrative position at AHS in 2010, but wasn’t called up for an interview at that time.
“This year I kept checking with EdJoin [the industry website for educational administrative positions] and when I saw AHS come up again, I thought it would make a difference this year that at Concord High School I had been the lead person on the WASC report…I had a large part in the writing and structure [of the WASC report] so I thought this time I had a better chance at the AHS job,” he said.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is the non-profit organization that accredits public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities in California, Hawaii and U.S. territories around the Pacific Ocean. In this state, a WASC accrediting commission is comprised of 32 representatives from organizations and every three or six years, depending on the school’s performance, the accreditation cycle recommences – with periods of self-study, team visits and follow-up.
It’s always a period of intense scrutiny of a school’s operations.
Rubino said this week that AHS leaders and the District “have been seeking an individual who would bring a broad range of administrative skills including instructional leadership, strong technology skills as well as a positive, friendly and personable demeanor when working with students, parents and staff.”
They found all those qualities in Doppe, he said.
“Tom’s background as a Department Chair, Advanced Placement English teacher and Coordinator of the School WASC team demonstrates that he has been a key instructional leader at his previous school and that is one to step forward to take on leadership responsibilities. Tom’s firm but fair approach to school-wide discipline will help create a safe and positive school environment for students,” Rubino said.
Growing up, Doppe and his younger brother were firmly rooted in the Diablo Valley, with his “whole family in Concord and Martinez.” He said he attended sports events and graduations throughout the years and was “always impressed by the community aspect of it all, it’s something I can value, the community ethic is certainly one I place value on…it’s an enviable position to come to a District like MUSD,” Doppe said, adding that he feels he will have a lot of support as a new administrator and he’s “very eager” for the new school year to begin in August, the same month he turns 31 and starts a “new phase in my career.”
On a personal front, he and his wife just bought a home in Concord, where they live with their three children, aged one, four and 12. When he’s not on a campus, he enjoys being on the golf fairway.
“So far [MUSD and AHS have] had great success with student achievement, and I want to be a part of a district that’s moving in the right direction,” said Doppe.