The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

Powell’s departure leaves legacy of community-wide collaboration

David Zhang
Powell on Jan. 31, his last day as DVHS principal

Evan Powell was appointed to the districtwide position of Director of Classified Human Resources by the SRVUSD Board of Education at their Dec. 13 meeting, and after a new principal was selected, Powell concluded his four years of service to DVHS on Jan. 31. 

Powell started working in the district as a PE teacher and Athletic Director at DVHS back when the school opened in 2007. He later served as an assistant principal at Monte Vista and the principal at Los Cerros Middle School before returning to DVHS as principal. But even before he began working in SRVUSD, Powell had a close connection with the district.

“Both my wife and I grew up and went to school in SRVUSD,” Powell said. “We’re very happy with the school system and what our kids are going to receive through their education here.”

Powell started as DVHS principal on Nov. 20, 2019, getting to work straight away by speaking with key individuals in order to better understand the school.

“[I was] new and so I did the listening tour,” Powell recalled. “I found that we really needed to focus on the joy of learning for our students. And so I centered a lot of my work around professional development for staff that would improve the student connection to curriculum.”

By ensuring that teachers were provided with student feedback, Powell hoped to make classes more engaging. In addition, Powell focused on reducing student stress by introducing transparency into scheduling.

“The Dougherty Valley stress everyone’s talked about really centered around weighted courses and college acceptance,” he said. “My favorite accomplishment was leading the school in the Honors/Weighted Course information website and overall conversation. The website [gives] more upfront information about what to expect. I believe students made more thoughtful decisions in recent years due to transparent scheduling information.”

Powell attributes the success of his policies to the collaborative spirit of staff, students and families. 

“Discussions at PTSA meetings, Site Council, staff meetings and other parent presentations about course load … and the overall well-being of students truly enhanced the learning of our families and students,” he stated. “Last year we had our WASC accreditation visit and we received nearly a perfect score. This indicated to me that we did the work we needed to do to support students.”

In addition to addressing the academic needs of students, Powell has observed and encouraged the flourishing of student activities outside the classroom. 

“The success of our clubs and our athletic teams and our performers really is a testament to the hard work students have put in for even longer than they were in high school,” Powell said. “It comes together and builds community, whether it’s in the theater, in the gym, on the field, in the quad or at a competition in another school. Clubs and extracurriculars help bring the high school environment that students need.”

Senior Gavin Li, a student representative for the School Site Council, met with Powell during monthly Site Council meetings. He admires Powell’s “student-centered” attitude.

“I really respect that he … cared about the student community beyond just doing his job,” Li said. “He was a very capable, patient and understanding principal. Whenever he was explaining a decision, I felt like I could understand his rationale.”

Senior Saanvi Tiwari, another member of the School Site Council, shares Li’s respect for Powell’s leadership.

“He was really good about tackling certain School Site Councils goals … one of them [was] decreasing the disparities between some of the minority groups at our school, and also helping with English learners,” Tiwari said. “He was very good at really focusing in on those goals and also maintaining a really strong presence throughout the school.”

To guide his running of DVHS for the past four years, Powell held a hierarchy of priorities. 

Every day, the safety and well-being of all individuals on this campus was my greatest responsibility

— Evan Powell

“Every day, the safety and well-being of all individuals on this campus was my greatest responsibility,” Powell said. “After that, [it was] ensuring the school operates successfully and students are happy. Another huge responsibility was building site goals with stakeholder input to improve the learning and support of students. Lastly, it was important for students to know I cared about them and that we are an institution of learning … mistakes happen, and it is important to learn from them.”

Powell looks back in awe at the school’s progress since the start of his tenure as DVHS principal, when the district was still grappling with COVID. Consistent with his commitment to collaboration, he views the progress as a collective effort.

“It’s been almost four years. And, you know, it’s crazy what we did in such a short amount of time,” Powell recalled. “We take a breath, we take a step back. We can see a bigger picture and we can make anything happen. Part of leadership is relying on others. And I knew I grew as a leader and that was because of the team of staff members, students and families all working together.”

At the Jan. 30 SRVUSD Board of Education meeting, DVHS Assistant Principal Lauren Falkner was announced as the new principal. The following day, Powell sent out a final message to the community, urging students to “work hard,” “work together” and “enjoy what you do.”

“I love his leadership,” Tiwari said. “I’m sad to see him go, but I’m really glad Ms. Falkner’s here. I think she’ll do great.”

Although Powell’s departure marks the end of an era, it leaves behind a school with a solid past and a bright future.

“Dougherty Valley is going to continue to shine,” Powell stated. “Our staff is phenomenal and they’re going to continue to work hard. Ms. Falkner is going to continue to do a great job leading the school. She has been an assistant principal here for a number of years, and with the connection she has and her leadership qualities I think it’ll be a great transition for our school.”

Even as Powell looks ahead to his new district role, he won’t forget the close connection he’s developed with the student body.

“I’m going to miss seeing our students succeed academically and in their extracurriculars. Our students will always continue to work hard, be motivated to be the best and I really appreciate that. Seeing that joy is really impactful.”

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About the Contributor
David Zhang
David Zhang, Staff Writer
David joined the Wildcat Tribune out of curiosity for the behind-the-scenes process of journalism publication. In J1 last year, David played around with various forms of journalism, and this year he hopes to gain more experience with conducting interviews. In his free time, David enjoys playing card games with his friends and running in the hills behind his home. Outside of school, he's an avid participant in college-run math tournaments. If David could be anyone else on the Tribune, he would aspire to become Benjamin because of his natural charisma and infectious enthusiasm.

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