“I’m just really happy to be back,” said Juan Raygoza, Berkeley High School’s principal, who returned to BHS on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, after spending July to December of 2023 on paternity leave.
According to Raygoza, he had an amazing opportunity to spend time at home with his wife and two kids, a six-and-a-half-year-old and a six-month-old.
“And it was an absolutely joyful experience to be able to be at home with my wife, and to be able to just be there every single day for our baby,” explained Raygoza. “So I cherished every moment seeing them grow up and become who they’re going to become.”
During his leave, Tonia Coleman, who is usually an executive vice principal, was the interim principal for BHS. Reflecting on Coleman being in the interim principal position during the fall semester and his absence, he mentioned that he had full trust in Coleman and the school community.
“Because I think we have a really amazing community here at Berkeley High (School),” said Raygoza. “And so I knew that our school was in really good hands with our staff, and especially with Ms. Tonia Coleman, who stepped into my interim principal role during my absence, and I have full trust in her. So it’s been a pretty smooth transition.”
As stated by Raygoza, the confidence that he had at home helped him focus all of his energy and time on his baby and wife because of the trust that he had in Coleman and the school community.
“(The) peace of mind allowed me to know that any challenges that were going to come up in the fall at Berkeley High (School) were going to be handled,” said Raygoza. “And that our students and our staff were resilient and would face those challenges head-on.”
For Raygoza, one important goal for coming back is building and strengthening relationships with everybody, such as new staff and any students that he didn’t get a chance to meet at the beginning of the fall semester while on paternity leave.
“But also just go back to those relationships that I had with everyone before I left,” said Raygoza. “So that’s my number one goal, to really have the strongest possible relationships with everyone at Berkeley High, including our community (and) our families.”
Current successes for Raygoza include the opening of the Wellness Center, the hiring of restorative justice coordinators, resources on campus for mental health, and working collaboratively with the Health Center. Raygoza mentioned that he wants to continue to see how BHS further ensures students feel supported and that their mental health is supported.
Moving forward, Raygoza said, “I’m just really happy to be back.”