Assistant Principal at Del Puerto High School, Marcos Huerta was recently awarded the California Continuation Education Association (CCEA) Counselor Support Person of the Year for the entire state of California.
“It’s quite an honor for me,” said Huerta. “The [CCEA] serves as a resource for continuation schools across the state and one of the things that they do is they try to help continuation schools establish standards of high quality education.”
Del Puerto High School was actually awarded the California Department of Education’s 2021 Model Continuation High School Award and the recognition of Huerta on top of that isn’t just a coincidence. Del Puerto is helping students succeed.
“One of the main things is, we try to put students first,” said Huerta. “[We always ask] ‘what’s best for the students?’ As a continuation or alternative school, we have a little more flexibility...We are able to work more with students' schedules.”
Huerta said that most students who attend Del Puerto are deficient in credits, and Del Puerto is able to help them accumulate the credits by replacing electives with core classes like Math, English, Science and History. The implementation of a Trimester system, along with the availability of online classes helps them to acquire the credits more conveniently in the time-frames that each student is given.
“I build all of the schedules for the students, '' said Huerta. “We take a look to see exactly what all of our students need and I devise a class schedule based on that.”
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara, Huerta previously worked in Social and Mental Health services, working a number of years with child protective services and group homes.
“I found myself working a lot with the youth and my wife is in education,” said Huerta. “She has been [in education] for a number of years, and she's currently the Principal at Apricot Valley...She suggested coming over to school counseling because I was at a point where I was thinking about going further in Mental Health or Social Services and I ended up choosing school counseling and then from school counseling I got into Administration.”
Huerta went back to school to get his Pupil Personnel Services credential and found work as a school counselor at Los Banos Junior High for three years. When the position for Guidance Learning Coordinator at Del Puerto popped up, Huerta was going to school for his Administrative credential.
“DP had an opening for Guidance Learning Coordinator, and I had [the requirements] for that, having the credential in school counseling as well as an Administrative credential so it was kind of a duel position I was gonna [sic] do all the requirements of a counselor but also serve as an Administrator on campus so that was really interesting to me. That was back in 2009.”
Huerta said that the success of Del Puerto rests directly on the shoulders of the staff, which he said works as a unit to ensure the progress of the students.
“We have great staff here,” said Huerta. “I’ll tell you that a number of our teachers have been here for many years, they have chosen to be here. Our office staff as well as our secretary have been here for a number of years. Our school attendance clerk for 5 to 6 years. Our Principal Mr. Sanchez has been here for 6 years. The majority of our staff have been here from the beginning of their careers. I think that’s a testament to their investing in our students and in providing a quality education for any students coming to Del Puerto...Everyone pitches in on certain things, we are constantly working as a team to get things done and to help our students improve.”
Huerta currently serves as Assistant Principal for Del Puerto High School, Open Valley Independent Study and Patterson Adult School. He commutes over an hour every day from his home in Dos Palos because he loves what he does. He wants to be there for the students and finds his work to be rewarding.
“We as staff and, myself personally get to learn a lot about each individual student that comes through,” said Huerta. “They have different backgrounds, different stories and learning about those stories and how we may be able to help guide them through this journey to get a diploma and give them a little bit of information to make a plan for the next stage, [is rewarding]...One system doesn’t fit all of our students, that’s why we have DP, as an alternative high school in the Patterson Joint Unified School District.”