Ms. Giovanna San Martin

Phone: 425-204-3401


Degrees and Certifications:

Ms. Giovanna San Martin

Renton High School Welcome Letter August 2017

August 14, 2018

A Welcome Letter to My Faculty:

After being together for the last 11 years (five of those years as your Principal), it is my belief that we are turnaround leaders. Collectively, we can narrate our story as one of reflective change that required and continues to require moral purpose, urgency and a willingness to challenge the status quo. You, my seasoned staff, have acquired a set of skills and knowledge to turn around a school or school system. I am so very proud of you and celebrate your accomplishments as well as your decision to remain at RHS and improve the lives of our students.

Turnaround leaders are in high demand. Unfortunately, they are in short supply. But, this is not the case for RHS. As we receive eight new faculty members, I would like them to know about the team that they are about to be part of and complement. The difference lies in your ability to respond with urgency and make key changes quickly by establishing a vision and working as a strong team to carry out that vision. For RHS, that vision was selected to support our Mission: “Graduation on Time and with Choices.” The realization of that mission continues to be attained by implementing the IB program for all and supported by different holistic services and interventions.

For the 2018-19 school year, I would like for us to continue to engage on turnaround leadership. But this year, I would like to define the practices and hope for each of you to collectively capture them in your day-to-day teaching and interactions:

Lead with a bold vision for equity. The work of a successful turnaround leader is driven by social justice and a desire to dismantle inequities for students who have been historically underserved. It’s about changing mindsets and raising expectations. This requires diversity management that departs from the top. I challenge you to see your students—particularly those who are struggling.

Lead with urgency. Achieve some short-term wins (SGGs, improved behavior, completing assignments) while communicating a long-term vision for success to your students and their families. Identify a few of the easiest things you can do to show them that change is possible.

Balance high expectations with increased support. As you increase expectations for students, you must give them the support they need to meet those new expectations. Engage in effective PLCs, triangulate a schoolwide formal and summative classroom assessment with each staff member teaching the same course, and/or instill restorative practices in you daily routines. We will be using our AACs to support your academic work with students in each grade level.

Be courageously non-compliant. Turnaround schools need dramatic change, and the school leader must be willing to challenge the status quo at every level of the system while being savvy enough to navigate risk factors and negotiate with key players. Use your SIP area to actualize the needs of your students and address them systematically.

Lead with emotional intelligence. Acknowledge that change is synonymous with loss and that breaking down long-held beliefs and systems can be an emotional struggle for stakeholders. This work requires an ability to handle hard situations with care and grace.

Know yourself as a leader. Be sure of yourselves. Do not change course the minute there is pushback or failure. You must be resilient. To be able to move this hard work forward, you will benefit from having your own personal support group outside of your system. Maintain the work/life balance desire we started last school year.

I hold the deep belief that none of us is as smart as all of us. We can achieve any goal by informing people and establishing a flexible, organizational structure that permits all personnel to make decisions that help the students. The key to one-on-one empowerment is achieved by sharing information and knowledge, declaring the boundaries and replacing hierarchy with self-directed individuals. I look for us to share leadership, collaborate, monitor performance, and exercise competitive advantage within our diversity of skills and points of view. With you and under the guiding values of Service, Excellence, and Equity, I look forward to us transforming RHS to the “provider of choice, the employer of choice, and the investment of choice.”

I am pleased to announce the new teachers and assistant principal who will join us this fall. The new members of the RHS staff include:

  • Makela Steward (AP)
  • Jeff Brown (P.E.)
  • Randall Creek (Math)
  • Wallace Dean (CTE)
  • Jed Michael (Math)
  • Lisa Richards (L.A.)
  • Carol Witschi (CTE)

An agenda is being mailed prior to the start of PD LID activities along with some information you will be asked to do regarding CANVAS. I look forward to your return and together embarking on a safe, peaceful, exciting, and academically strong 2018-19 school year.

I hope you are still enjoying a well-deserved summer break.


Gia San Martin, RHS Principal