On Jan. 24, Palo Alto High School principal Adam Paulson announced that he would be resigning at the end of the school year. Verde Magazine sat down with him and gave him a chance to reflect on the experiences he has had, as both assistant principal and principal. After six years as an administrator, Paulson extends advice for students, faculty and his successor (who is yet to be announced).
Verde: How do you feel about the many stigmas that surround Palo Alto Unified School District, including academic rigor and social stress?
Paulson: Well, I’ve been around the country; I’ve been in schools in the Midwest, Colorado and California. I’ve worked in charter schools and worked in public schools and the things that happened here and the stigmas that are occurring — they happen everywhere. I think it’s more of a generational thing. You guys are growing up with the internet and a lot more distractions — I was lucky to grow up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, where, you know, we didn’t have that. And so it’s interesting. And so I think a lot of the pressures that you’re feeling are just because the world is speeding out, the communication flow is just quicker, and in the end, we expect more out of students. I don’t think it’s a Palo Alto issue, I think it’s a your-generation issue.
“What gives me energy is just being in the classroom and all those little moments every day. I mean, I try to connect with students every day.”
— Adam Paulson, principal
V: Why are you planning on leaving Paly and what are your plans for the future?
P: Well, in my statement, I said that it was for personal reasons, and I’m gonna stick with that. I’ll keep those reasons to myself. But I’ll just say that I’ve enjoyed my time here and I’m hoping to leave this place in good hands.
V: What is one moment that defines your time at Paly?
P: Gosh, I love this school so much and I’ve had so many good memories just with students. A lot of those were during Spirit Week or just at sporting events and related to all the great music and art that’s on campus. It’s really hard to kind of pinpoint one. But what gives me energy is just being in the classroom and all those little moments every day. I mean, I try to connect with students every day, whether that’s in the classroom, in the library, or just doing interviews with you. I think it’s just the culmination of all those moments of interaction with students that gives me energy.
V: What advice would you give to your successor?
P: It’s a tough job. I mean, anybody that’s going to take this seat knows that. I would say definitely connect with students every day. Do what gives you energy to remind you why you’re here, get a lot of sleep and just keep a healthy balance.