By Karen Billing
Solana Santa Fe School is starting 2014 with a different principal than the one that started the school year in fall 2013. The new principal, however, is actually a very familiar face in the local community: Becky Gauthier, who has been a teacher at the school since it opened 21 years ago.
Gauthier took over as interim principal after new principal Stephan Bering suddenly announced his resignation just before the Thanksgiving break.
“Solana Santa Fe is an amazing place and I think that’s what made my decision easy,” Gauthier said. “Having opened the school, there’s a sense of ownership, it’s something I have watched grow and morph into what it is now and I have a deep love for the school and staff. They are amazing and I’m truly honored to be their leader. We have amazing parents and they send us wonderful kids. We’re a small school and everyone takes care of each other; we’re a family.”
Gauthier is truly a local — she was born and raised in Solana Beach and went to Solana Beach School District schools when the district consisted of just Skyline School and a school at the district office. She graduated from Torrey Pines High School and while she spent some time away for college and four years of teaching in Long Beach, she was called back home to San Diego.
Gauthier said she wanted to be a teacher since the second grade. Before Solana Santa Fe, Gauthier taught for one year at Solana Vista School.
At Solana Santa Fe, Gauthier has taught every grade from first to fifth, and also spent a year as a differentiation specialist for the school. She was teaching a fourth and fifth grade split class before becoming the principal.
“It was hard to leave, it was an amazing class. I still go in to visit all the time,” Gauthier said. “(As principal) I visit all of the classrooms because I want to be on campus and know what’s going on and the only way to know that is to be in the classrooms.”
So while she visits them all, there is one class she admittedly has a sweet spot for.
Gauthier has had her administrative credential in her back pocket for the last 19 years and was never sure she would have the opportunity to take a leadership position. But when asked to take over the school by district superintendent Nancy Lynch, Gauthier stepped up to the task.
Being an educational leader was no problem for Gauthier, but it has been a big learning curve understanding all of the many things an administrator is responsible for, figuring out how to handle all of the different scenarios and situations that arise.
“My fellow staff members have been so incredibly supportive. They are a phenomenal staff, very professional and competent and really supportive of me so that helps,” said Gauthier, who had a mentor for 21 years in former Principal Julie Norby, now at the district office as the director of instructional services.
The district will likely make a decision regarding a permanent principal in the spring and whether Gauthier will shed her “interim” title isn’t yet known.
“There are things I miss terribly about being in the classroom but, in life, you have to grow and change and take on new challenges and this has definitely been that,” Gauthier said. “Sometimes opportunity knocks. I opened the door. There’s been a learning curve but it’s exciting.”