Last week was a busy one for La Jolla Elementary School interim principal Stephanie Hasselbrink. On April 24, she was selected as the school’s new permanent principal, and on April 26 she presided over “Crazy Everything Day,” as decreed by Principals-for-the-Day, students Chase and Lauren Ostrom.
“I am so excited to be named principal,” Hasselbrink told La Jolla Light. “I was a teacher here for four years and it was never my plan to leave. I’m a big believer in, if an opportunity comes your way and feels right, take it. I was at Marshall Elementary for three years as a resource teacher, and there I had the opportunity to be a vice-principal. My former principal said I was his right hand, left hand, everything! I got the chance to focus on instruction and operational needs. When I asked to take the interim principal position here, I had to really weigh my options because we all know how beloved (former principal) Donna Tripi was and all the good she did.
“At the end of the day, I thought the interim position was a perfect way to try this position on and see if it is something I could really do. After pledge assemblies, lunch duties, afterschool duties, Individualized Education Program meetings and crazy dress up days, not only did I realize I could do it, but that I was having fun! The community has been so welcoming, warm and supportive. It is a perfect match.”
Carefully keeping an eye on her students leaving the Crazy Everything Day morning assembly, and listening to her Principals-for-the-Day speak into bullhorns and giggle, she explained that the program is a longtime tradition at La Jolla Elementary. “Principal-for-a-Day is a fundraiser for the school,” she said.
On Crazy Everything Day, the co-principals led the morning assembly, visited classrooms, gave out popsicles during lunch, helped Hasselbrink talk to a student who intentionally made a mess in the bathroom and, as Chase put it, “we make sure everyone is on task and being good.”
For “Crazy Everything Day,” the students donned unicorn horns, tutus, wore shirts backwards and inside out, pulled up colorful un-matched socks, put their shoes on the wrong feet, and spray-painted their hair to show their crazy spirits.
“It’s really exciting and really fun to be Principal-for-the-Day,” Chase said. Lauren added: “I like it because you get to see what it’s like to be a principal.”
As to how they decided on the theme “Crazy Everything Day,” Lauren added: “There’s already Crazy Sock Day, Crazy Hair Day and Crazy Shirt Day, so we thought we could mash them all together and make Crazy Everything Day.”
Once the dust settles from Crazy Everything Day, Hasselbrink said she will focus on her new role.
“The teachers are on a great path with the history that’s been laid here in academics and curriculum, so my job is to help them continue that journey,” she said. “Our kids are happy and achieving, so I will continue to guide them ... and as far as instruction goes, nudge everyone to take that next step.
“We are in the business of helping kids achieve in academics, but our longer term goal is to help develop good citizens for the future. I’m excited that the La Jolla Cluster Association is so focused on Social Emotional Learning because if kids don’t have their basic needs met — feeling safe and loved — then they’re never going to get self-actualization and access that highest level of themselves.”