By: KYLIE YEATMAN
As Carmel High School makes many changes to its staff this year, assistant principal Debbi Puente has joined CHS staff in her 28th year of education.
Puente, who has lived in the Monterey Bay Area all her life, reveals that she immediately felt welcomed by the students and staff of Carmel High School.
“One thing that really excited me was how over-the-top nice everyone is,” Puente says. “I get to feel like I’m a part of the community because of how nice the students, teachers and staff have been. My job takes me to many schools, but I don’t feel like I’ve been to a better place than here.”
As a graduate of University of Santa Barbara with a major in communications, Puente reveals that she hadn’t always seen herself in the position of a school staff member.
“I ultimately had to make a decision in college,” Puente says. “I ended up getting my teaching credentials because of my love of working with kids.”
Puente says her past as an English teacher was an important stepping stone in her path towards becoming a CHS assistant principal. She also reveals her interest in high schools specifically, noting the easy ability to have adult-level conversations with high school students.
“There’s certain nuances that you can’t get with younger kids,” Puente says.
With all her years of experience teaching at high schools, the assistant principal says it’s difficult for high school students to make smart decisions free from their friends’ influence.
“Most of the time, they go with the crowd,” Puente says. “It’s so much easier to just say, ‘That’s not my thing’ and move on.”
Puente cites students’ dependency on validation from their friends and peers as a main reason for this.
“It’s important to be your own person, and to be confident in what you believe.”
As a native of the Gilroy area, Puente reveals that Carmel was often a vacation spot for her and her husband. Puente reveals that she has often visited Carmel for fun in her spare time, making it a dream to work in town.
A source of guidance, Puente wants to communicate with students that she’s ready to create a safe and inclusive campus.
“I want students to feel excited to be here,” Puente notes. “It’s an exciting time, and I want students to find out what they want to be at the end of this four years.”