Following the declination of Guidance Assistant Principal Clarisse Haxton’s administrative credential by the California Teaching Commission, Haxton’s role has shifted to administrative teacher on special assignment for the remainder of the school year.
“The rule (is) you need at least three years of teaching and two of them have to be in the past five years,” Haxton said. “So my credentials declined because my teaching in K-12 education was not recent enough. So I would need to teach for two (more) years.”
Haxton said the declination of her credential was “unexpected,” because the small inconsistency of her application with administrative credential requirements was overlooked during the application process. She applied for the credential with two years of middle school teaching and one year of TOSA teaching from last year, but the TOSA teaching ultimately didn’t count.
“I had the credential (and) I met the requirements of the position when I applied and when I got the job,” Haxton said. “I had a valid, temporary administrative credential while the application was being reviewed. And so my admin credential was valid until it was declined (by the CTC).”
Consequently, Haxton’s duties have been altered by the district to abide by the CTC’s rules, making her a TOSA.
“My role will be the same for the rest of this year as all of the duties of assistant principal guidance,” Haxton said. “The only detail is that you need an admin credential to do two things: to be able to do student discipline and to evaluate staff. So now for the rest of the year, I will not do those two things.”
During her time as guidance assistant principal and now as a TOSA, Haxton works primarily with the Guidance, English and Social Justice departments. There, she co-leads a committee that works to come up with suggestions to improve the advisory program.
“I think advisory is one of the most important things for students,” Haxton said. “It holds a lot (of things) and we want to try to do it better.”
Haxton is also working with school counselors, psychologists and wellness teams to coordinate an effective way of helping students who struggle with mental health or personal and academic issues.
“We have made a more systematic approach this year so we can make sure that staff can better support students and follow up in a more systematic way,” Haxton said.
According to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson, the fact that Haxton instantly took the initiative to improve systems around Paly is what makes her special.
“The most impressive thing is she hit the ground running with her job, which (amazes me) because she hasn’t been an assistant principal of guidance before,” Berkson said. “It is such a complex job that she just hit the ground running like she’s been doing it for 20 years.”
Looking toward the future, Haxton said she hopes Paly can continue to better its environment for students and staff.
“Bottom line, this is an amazing school with amazing people,” Haxton said. “Paly just needs to continue to improve and work together as a team and as a community.”
In terms of her own career, Haxton is confident that this setback will not prevent her from pursuing her passions.
“My entire career has been working in education and working on issues of equity and systems improvement,” Haxton said. “I love kids (and) schools. And I love working with teachers and teaching. So all of the experience(s) of my career brought me to this role here … I love being a site administrator.”
For her next two years of teaching necessary to acquire an administrative credential, Haxton wants to continue to teach at Paly.
“I hope that I’m not going to leave (Paly) actually,” Haxton said. “I’m trying to work it out. If possible, I would love to stay for the next two years.”
Regardless of her position or location, Berkson said Haxton will do everything she can to improve her community.
“Whatever she does here, she’ll be great,” Berkson said. “It’s not like she’s just going to teach to get her two years. She will give it 100 percent and do something meaningful, and I’m excited about the prospect of having her around.”
Wherever the future takes her, Haxton said she is excited to solve problems and help people.
Haxton said, “You can’t control the challenges in this job, but you can turn them into opportunities.”