Jan 1, 2013 9:33 PM by Nikki Ibarra
Local students have a few more days before they head back to school from winter break.
In the meantime, KSBY caught up with the principal of Santa Maria High School about his hopes and plans for the place he calls his second home.
"I think Santa Maria High School is the hidden jewel in the town of Santa Maria," said Joe Dominigues, principal of Santa Maria High School.
It's his love for the school that sets Principal Domingues apart from your every day educator. "We want it to be the school of choice, you know, for Santa Maria," added Domingues.
He's third generation of Joe Domingues' to graduate from Santa Maria.
The first thing on his to-do list every day is to visit the same classrooms where he spent four years as a student. "We want to support the learning process, to find out what the teachers need, to find out what the students need," said Domingues.
Now that he's back as principal, his main goal is to improve test scores, which, he said, were low when he returned to the school three years ago. That year the school's Academic Performance Index score was just 660. "We're the only school, the only high school in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County that's under 700 on the API," added Domingues.
For the 2011-2012 school year, Santa Maria's API score increased to 693. Domingues said there's still a lot more work to be done.
"After school just walk and look around the classrooms and you'll see the classrooms loaded with students after school and lunch. The dedication by the staff is phenomenal," said Domingues. That kind of dedication is what keeps Domingues confident this generation of students will make their mark.
"This school is 120 years old. The biggest thing we have that other schools don't have is we have culture, identity and we have a past and history," said Domingues.
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