New assistant principal joins the VHS community
By Keziah Rutschow, Reporter
At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, Vashon High School’s assistant principal left his position to teach at another school. John Erickson, who was one of many candidates for the job, applied to the Vashon Island School District to be closer to his home and community. Leaving his position at Hilltop Elementary School was a difficult decision, but when he got the message that there was an opening at VHS, Erickson felt it was time to move forward. His experience in the education system over the past 18 years prepared him for any position to come.
“We are really lucky to have Mr. Erickson here for a couple of different reasons,” Principal Danny Rock said.
Erickson lives on the island, which is not very common among teachers in the administration. He has also had lots of experience working in school environments and leadership in high school as a coach, teacher, and principal at multiple schools. Before attending Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, to complete his four-year degree, he had experience teaching as a lifeguard/swim teacher for kids, being a rock climbing instructor, and working at multiple summer camps. All these jobs played a role in how he worked later in his life as a wrestling coach, English teacher, dean of students, and principal. Although leaving some of those roles has been a hard choice, he still does what he can to participate in similar settings as much as possible.
Erickson is still just beginning his work here at VHS.
“Right now is sort of just surveying what makes this specific learning community unique and special; what are the strengths that stand out? So I’m in learning mode right now. I’m just trying to determine what’s the very best for us, and how can I fit in to help be part of that and help bolster that? At the same time, I’m trying to observe strengths [while] also looking for areas that could be strengthened and that have room for improvement.”
While he is observing what’s best for the school, he is making opportunities to learn.
“Mr. Erickson is pretty outgoing, so he’s creating opportunities for himself to get to know students and for students to get to know him.” Rock said.
Students have come forward explaining how Erickson naturally starts conversations and is always open ears. Ava Woo, a senior at VHS, emphasized the importance of becoming a part of the high school’s community.
“[I would like for him to] make sure that everything runs smoothly with classes, especially with COVID, just all of the new changes—making sure that everyone has the support they need, and being in communication with the staff about it,”Woo said, “So I think, just making sure and keeping him accountable for reaching out to students and being a part of the community.”
Though Erickson is begining his teaching career at VHS in the midst of the school’s transition back to in person school, he has found many positive outcomes.
“I think if I had to pick one word[to describe the start of this year, it would be] whirlwind, just like a super positive whirlwind,” Erickson said, “I felt welcomed by the community, by students, and by staff. I’m thrilled to be here.”
As a high school teacher, Erickson wants to inspire students to recognize their power as a community.
“There’s no limit to the amount of good that a person can do. Especially if they don’t care who gets the credit,” Erickson said, “There’s so much good that we can do, especially together [with] the power of our collectivism. It’s staggering and mind-boggling. So go out there and do it.”