When Laurel Fretz was a teenager, she would come to Santa Monica Beach with her friends, occasionally passing by Samo on her way home. She never dreamed that one day she would be Samo’s principal. Years later, she sits in the principal’s office at her new job.
Fretz was appointed Samo principal over the summer after former principal Dr. Hugo Pedroza’s resignation.
Before coming to work at Samo, Fretz had been looking into a new job but was uncertain if she wanted to leave her current job as a principal in Riverside.
“I’d been thinking about making a change but didn’t know if I wanted to – and then I saw this job,” Fretz said.
Fretz is originally from Los Angeles and has lived in several different areas of the city in her lifetime. Before she began working in education, Fretz was a registered delivery nurse. After 15 years working in hospitals, she decided that she wanted to become an educator. After applying for her first teaching job in Arcadia, she knew that this was the right career for her. She went on to teach science in Arcadia before becoming assistant pricipal and eventually principal at a Riverside high school.
After Fretz learned about the Samo job opening online, she looked into it and realized that she possesed many of the qualities it required.
“Santa Monica is a great school,” Fretz said. “I have a lot of experience with schools like Santa Monica and professional development – helping teachers be the best they can be.”
Fretz admits however, that Samo is very different from the last high school she worked at, which was challenged by gang-related problems and low-income families. However, Fretz says they have one thing in common – great students.
Students have “…smiled at me, shaken my hand, said hello and been kind, funny and smart. That is what I like best,” Fretz said.
According to Fretz, the teachers and administrators at Samo are working to create a network of support for her during her first year. Fretz says the house principals have been amazing and helpful. The teachers have also made her feel very comfortable with the school.
“Our teachers are amazing,” Fretz said, “They really care about the kids and want them to learn – that cannot be said at all schools.”
The staff has shared enthusiasm towards Fretz’s arrival.
“It’s very exciting. We needed a change and some different leadership,” I-House adviser Jessica Garrido said. “She’s been really involved with the adviser team and supportive in regards of scheduling.”
Fretz hopes to bring several things to Samo, although she believes the school does not need much improvement. She would like to create consistency between all houses- with discipline, advising and procedures while still keeping their personality. She also believes that teachers can always improve their communication with students. Everyone has the ability to learn more, she says, not just honors students.
“It is an interesting school and I am enjoying it,” Fretz said. “I don’t think there is any other school quite like this one.”