OAKHURST – School’s back in session and Yosemite High School (YHS) has a new principal. This may be Randy Seals’ first year at YHS but he’s no stranger to the area. Seals has lived most of his life in Chowchilla, where he still resides today. So far.
It’s not an exaggeration to say Seals is thrilled to be working here in the foothills and is entirely familiar with the area. Growing up, these woods were his “stomping grounds.”
“Throughout my childhood, I enjoyed spending considerable time at our family’s Sugar Pine cabin. It was our home away from home. This is one of the truly special places on earth.”
Seals had long hoped for a YHS position, so he “sprung at the chance to join the Badgers.” Following a lengthy interview process Superintendent Jim Sargent offered him the position and Seals says, “I couldn’t respond fast enough. I was very excited to join such a tremendous team.”
In the corporate world, it’s good to have a leader with experience in all the positions under his or her supervision. If the same is true in academia, students at YHS are in luck. Seals comes with the kind of background that allows him insight into the everyday nuances of school — he always calls it school, not work — from just about every perspective.
At various time Seals been a classroom teacher in English, Reading, World History, US History, Economics, Civic and Physical Education. He has served as Department Chair in Social Studies and Math. He’s been the Head Coach for Football and Baseball and also Athletic Director.
The former Chowchilla high senior class president has, as an adult, been a Categorical Programs Director and Peer Assistance Review mentor. Most recently and for the last seven years, Seals was the Assistant Principal of Curriculum & Instruction at Chowchilla.
The enthusiastic leader earned his Associate’s degree majoring in physical education from Modesto Junior College and followed up with a stint at the University of California at Davis (UCD). In 1991 Seals earned his Bachelor’s of Arts degree from UCD with a major in history and a minor in English.
“After earning my teaching credential from National University, I began teaching in Chowchilla,” recalls the father of four. “My first full-time assignment was as athletic director and physical education teacher with Wilson Middle School in the Chowchilla Elementary School District. Less than a year later, I accepted a position teaching English and Reading with Chowchilla HS, where I remained for the next 20 years in a variety of roles.”
Back when he was a student at Chowchilla in the mid-1980s Seals was a three-sport athlete, participating in football, basketball and baseball. He played trumpet for years until sports and academics overtook band. Seals was active all-around, and recommends that approach to his students at YHS.
“I always took pride in my ability to socialize with all of the various groups—the ‘jocks’ (athletes), ‘aggies’ (FFA students), ‘band jocks’ (music students), ‘brainiacs’ (highest performing students), etcetera,” recounts the new Badger, which is the mascot of YHS. “I often would move from group to group during a single lunch period, just checking in with everyone about everyday high school stuff. Those experiences have served me well through the years.”
Now that Seals has made the switch from Chowchilla red to Yosemite blue, he’s embracing the opportunity entirely.
“I love Yosemite High School. The people here—students, staff, teachers, everyone—have made me feel so welcomed! The people here in Badger Country help make this a dynamic place. The campus is the most beautiful high school campus I’ve ever seen, so it is a highlight of everyday to step outside my office and walk our ‘hundred-acre wood.’”
Seals says his current focus is on evaluating current policies and procedures, “not to make specific changes, but to evaluate what we do and why.” He admits his own learning curve is “fairly steep” in terms of doing things the Yosemite way, and while he’s not rushing the process, Seals is up for the challenge.
“In terms of programs, we are committed to offering rigorous academic courses that prepare our students for the 21st century, whether they pursue a career immediately upon graduation or move along to higher education, technical training, or service in our country’s military branches. Among the programs we are looking to expand is in career technical education through our Regional Occupational Program (ROP) through which students learn valuable skills and knowledge that allow them to be employable in each respective field immediately after course completion.”
YHS currently offers ROP courses in culinary arts, athletic training, criminal justice, agricultural welding, digital video/film making, fundamentals of automotive technology and small animal (pre-veterinary) science.
“We survey students annually to determine course interest and work collaboratively with Fresno County ROP to continuously provide those courses in which students are most-interested.”
In addition to ROP courses, academic excellence will remain a priority. “We are also working to further establish YHS as a ‘destination school,’ one which students and parents view as being the absolute best place to receive a first-class high school experience and education. We cannot worry ourselves about what other schools and districts are doing with their own business, but rather focus our attention on making everything we offer at YHS first-class.”
Seals likes a saying: “We are either first-class, or we are no class!” He says the motto transcends everything they do in school.
“We are dedicated to providing a first-class institution. Parents absolutely have the duty and obligation to do what they believe to be in the best interests of their children, especially with regard to school choice. It is our mission to create the type of school that parents want their children to attend because it is absolutely the place that will offer the best high school education possible.”
He says this is accomplished by offering a wide variety of courses, programs, activities, and special events.
“Each student has just four years to construct a truly first-class high school experience. It is my duty to help provide as many pathways as possible for our kids to do just that.”
Seals reports that the first days and weeks of school have been phenomenal.
“The first day of school was highly successful, with an emphasis on demonstrating to students how fun their high school experience should be, especially when they establish meaningful relationships and/or connections with other students and their teachers,” he continued.
“Mrs. Tammy Thacker and our terrific ASB students did such an outstanding job organizing that first day. We are off to a fantastic start in Badger Country. Our students are simply the best!”
The new principal has a strong message for all the kids on campus.
“I want every student to know they are surrounded by a truly dedicated instructional and support staff of adults at YHS, people who provide them not only with a rigorous course of study, but also a warm, nurturing environment in which to learn. I want them to learn that oftentimes, the right thing to do is the most difficult thing to do. And that just because something is difficult to accomplish, if it is the right thing to do, then it is worth doing, regardless of effort, struggle, or size of the obstacle standing in their path. I want our kids to know our doors are always open and we are always available to assist.”
On a personal note, Seals married spouse Kelli in 2010, who is employed at Chowchilla HS as the Student Activities Director and a math teacher. She also coaches the Chowchilla Dance Club teams.
“I have four children,” says the seasoned father, “Samantha (freshman nursing student at Fresno State University); Cooper (sophomore at Chowchilla HS); Luke (2nd grade at Alview School); and Adam (16 months old). Seals jokes that he and Kellie have “pre-pre-school through university covered within the confines of our home.”
Thus, Seals is understanding of the responsibilities, pressures and distractions parents can face trying to raise kids well.
“High school provides a wealth of opportunities for students to learn and grow; for many parents, it’s a time of acute transition when our children are becoming young adults. It can sometimes be difficult to know when to intervene and assist versus when to relax a little and let the kids figure things out for themselves.”
Seals considers the dilemma and advises families to remain vigilant in looking out for their children, and to elevate school to among the highest priorities if that’s not already the case.
“Most importantly, I would advise parents to help their new high school student to become involved in a student club, course of study, athletic team, FFA, band, drama/theater, mock trial, academic decathlon, and/or any other extra- or co-curricular program of interest.” He cites research showing the highest-achieving students academically are those involved with extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.
“With regard to their children’s education, I advise parents to build bridges between their home and school. These bridges should be constructed from home to their children’s teachers, bus driver, guidance counselor, and school leadership, at a minimum.”
Seals says schools can reinforce what is being taught in the home, while parents advocate for their children to receive the best education possible.
“When parents and school personnel are working together to provide high school children with the best possible educational experience, magic happens.”
Looking forward, Seals sees lots of positives in the future for Yosemite High School.
“I am blessed to be here, and look forward to working with everyone to continue building on our rich, proud tradition of excellence in every academic, extra-curricular, and co-curricular program we offer. I continue to say what I believe deep in my heart, and that is that the glory years at YHS are still in our future, not just in our past.”
For information on Yosemite High School check out the District Website.
Check out Retro Bill’s website here.