Principal Gentene walks thousands of steps to unify middle school

Jake Sapp | Staff Writer

After trekking back and forth between two buildings, new Mason Middle School Principal Lauren Gentene really got her steps in on the first day of school.

With the middle schoolers’ transition from their building to the high school and intermediate buildings, Gentene said she took it upon herself to ensure all started smoothly. She visited each classroom in both buildings to meet with the MMS staff and students.

“I knew that I wanted to visit every classroom, every middle school staff member, and meet as many students as possible,” Gentene said. “My plan was to fist bump every kid that I could on the first day, but I ended up fist bumping so much that I actually had bruised knuckles by the end of the day.”

Gentene was not prepared for the amount of walking she had to do, but endured every step to ensure all the middle school staff and students felt welcome in their new learning environments.

“On the first day of school, I didn’t choose my shoes very wisely,” Gentene said. “I had heels on and I ended up walking 7.5 miles just during school hours in heels and I was feeling it when I went home that night. I was like, ‘When will it be socially acceptable to ice my feet?’”

As a new principal, Gentene feels it is her responsibility to support her colleagues and students to the best of her ability every single day, even if it meant extra work on her part.

“It’s all about serving our staff, our students, and their parents,” Gentene said. “I am driven by the relationships that I have, so it has been very important to me to not lose who I am at my core. I wanted to set that sort of tone in our building as well.”


New MMS Principal Lauren Gentene discusses her first day of school with Chronicle Staff Writer Riley Johansen.

Continually going between the three-story high school and intermediate buildings, Gentene said, allowed her to witness what she called an incredibly supportive culture in the middle school.

“I was really proud to see the students who went out of their way to be kind to one another,” Gentene said. “I watched a lot of kids invite others to sit with them, assist teachers, and brighten each other’s day. It’s been really fun.”

For Gentene, her first day of school as principal was enlightening on both a personal and work-related level.

“One of the things that I learned was to see the classroom visits as an opportunity to get to know the people that we work for on a much deeper level,” Gentene said. “This has been a really difficult transition for our staff, but they have been flexible and resilient which makes me incredibly proud.”

While Gentene is now the principal of the MMS building, she still feels proud to be able to see her students daily and help them achieve their goal

By stepping out of the office and into the middle schoolers’ shoes, Gentene was able to impact students in a way she could not have from simply answering emails all day.

“Being able to to have the opportunity to see our students shine has been a truly amazing experience for me,” Gentene said. “As long as our kids feel safe and welcome in our building, we will consider our efforts a success.”

Video by Riley Johansen.