Hillman’s legacy carries on with Kravitz as new DVHS Principal

Dougherty Valley’s 10th year in existence was already marked by change and upheaval: a new  calendar for the school year, an influx of students and staff and several new programs, like AP Capstone, beginning in classrooms across campus. Exchanging principals in the midst of it all seems fitting — and daunting.

“Anytime there’s change, there’s anxiety,” said exiting Principal Daniel Hillman. “My advice to people is to take a deep breath … things will change. It’s a good thing.”

Hillman served his last day as principal on Sept. 20 and departs DV for a job at SRVUSD as Facilities Development Director.

In his new position, Hillman will oversee construction in over 32 school sites.

“I can tell he’s really passionate about facilities,” said Assistant Principal Megan Moilanen. “That’s my sense, after working closely with him last year [to expand the 1000 building].”

Dave Kravitz, formerly one of Dougherty Valley’s Assistant Principals, took over immediately as principal.

Kravitz’s qualifications are extensive. He has worked at all four high schools in the district for almost 30 years in a multitude of roles, including coach, teacher, newspaper advisor and assistant principal.

Although he stated during a school site council meeting Sept. 22 that he was “really looking forward to” his new position, Kravitz inherits the issues Hillman faced during his tenure.

Hillman leaves having served during an extreme surge in Dougherty’s population, placing our population of over 3,000 well past the intended capacity of 2,200. Kravitz says that student overcrowding has been a topic of ongoing conversation within administration.

“Fortunately, I’ve worked with Mr. Hillman for a couple of years, so I have a good sense of Hillman’s plan [for Dougherty],” he said. “There are no major changes I’m seeking to make at all this year. I will probably pick up on where Mr. Hillman left off.”

Hillman is also optimistic about the opportunities a large student body brings.

“Instead of having to choose to do this or that, we can do this and that [because of growth], and that’s something that really excites me looking forward for Dougherty,” Hillman said.

Hillman’s role was especially crucial for Librarian Kerri Pike this year, since she is heading DV’s “self-study” in the 2016-17 school year, which is required for DV to renew its WASC accreditation: the credibility that gives all graduates’ diplomas weight in the real world.

“This is what’s called a ‘full accreditation’ year,” Pike said. “The principal is heavily, heavily involved. You really never want to lose a principal in a self-study year.”

However, Pike is relatively undeterred, since Hillman has offered to help her in managing the accreditation even from his new position, and since the newly appointed Principal Dave Kravitz is such a familiar face.

Despite the smooth transition between principals, there’s still a sense of loss among staff.

During his tenure, many staff attest to a unique culture of easy communication and honesty among Dougherty staff that Hillman helped cultivate.

“He’s been really inclusive in terms of hearing all voices,” Pike said. “I could always go and just have a conversation with him, and that’s what I hope for in our new principal as well.”

Hillman also speaks to the easy rapport among staff.

“It’s special; there’s a culture in place where the staff is mostly on the same page. It seems natural, but you don’t find that everywhere.”

Most staff, excepting Pike, who he had notified prior due to his role in her current work, found out along with the public announcement. Reactions ranged from shock to calm, but all with mournful undertones.

“[Hillman] really looks out for his employees,” teacher and site council chair Dana Pattison said. “He’s created a space where teachers can follow their passion, which transfers onto students. I’m genuinely going to miss him – he was one of the best principals [I’ve worked with].”

“He was a great principal,” Pike said. “We’re losing a good one.”