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Longtime La Mesa Junior High School principal to retire

Posted: December 19, 2013 4:40 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2013 4:40 p.m.

Principal Pete Fries poses for a picture at La Mesa Junior High School on Thursday. Fries is retiring after 12 years of service. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo.

Pete Fries knew it was time.

It was time to retire as principal at La Mesa Junior High School, time to step away from a career in education that has spanned more than three decades.

“There’s nothing constant but change,” he said Thursday.

Thursday was the last day of the semester for La Mesa — the last semester for Fries at the William S. Hart Union High School District middle school he has helmed for the last 12 years.

“It’s been a great ride, let me tell you,” he said of his time at La Mesa. “I have no regrets.

“It’s been very good,” he continued. “Education has been good to me and I certainly have enjoyed it.”

When he was starting out, Fries said he never imagined himself as a principal. Originally, he taught woodshop and math in the Los Angeles Unified School District, starting in 1976.

That eventually led to another opportunity to work as a counselor and dean. It was there Fries got his first taste of working in the office instead of the classroom and began his trek down the road to becoming a full-time administrator.

“It’s funny how fate kind of changes things around for you,” he said.

Fries worked as an assistant principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District until 2002, when he was hired to take over at La Mesa.

Reflecting on his time at La Mesa, Fries said he was proud of how the school’s test scores have increased year after year, with its most recent Academic Performance Index mark of 835 being the highest in the school’s history.

“That’s a great accomplishment for my staff,” he said. “They’ve done a great job.”

He also said he was proud of the environment that has developed at the school.

“We have a family here; we all work together,” he said. “We all share the same common goal and the same common vision, and that’s to increase student learning.”

As for what awaits him in retirement, Fries said he plans to focus on his health.

But that doesn’t mean he’ll be lazing about. He is already planning a multi-day backpacking trip in the summer.

“I’m not going to be sitting around, that’s for sure,” he said. “I’m not that type of guy.”

Fries’ retirement sets off a reshuffling of administrators in the Hart district. Michele Krantz, the district’s director of professional development and special programs, will replace Fries at La Mesa.

Jill Shenberger, the current principal of Academy of the Canyons, will replace Krantz at the district while Pete Getz, the principal at Sequoia Charter School, will step into the same position at Academy of the Canyons.

Brandi Davis, a special education program specialist, will take over for at Sequoia.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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