Bret Harte High School Assistant Principal Heath Lane was promoted to interim principal at a special board meeting July 18, after Principal Kylee Luchetti accepted an administrative position in special education in Tuolumne County.
Bret Harte Union High School District Superintendent Mike Chimente said deliberations for the permanent principal position will occur in the spring of 2019.
During the July 18 meeting however, board policy was amended to allow for the option to waive the principal recruitment process next spring and promote the interim principal to the full-time position if the board finds Lane satisfactory in the role.
Lane has worked at Bret Harte High School for nearly 20 years, taking a one-year hiatus to work at Sonora High School, but returning in 2006, when Chimente became superintendent. Lane began his Bret Harte career as a special education teacher. He soon switched to drivers’ education, which he taught for 10 years, and in 2008, he accepted an additional role as athletic director. He was appointed assistant principal in 2015 and said he was offered the interim position in June.
“Heath is an outstanding educator, and I appreciate the governing board for allowing this transition to occur,” Chimente said on July 19. “It’s in the best interest of our community and students to have someone in place when school starts, especially someone who is known in the community and has provided years of service to the district.”
Lane, who has been on a long road to recovery after suffering major injuries in a March 2017 car crash in which he has hit by a drunk driver, says he looks forward to Bret Harte becoming an even bigger part of his life, and that he would be “definitely happy” to stay on full-time if the opportunity arises in the spring.
“Bret Harte feels like home and always has,” Lane said July 20. “When I left for a year to advance my career in a different direction, it didn’t feel right. I’ve lived in this community for 20 years. My kids graduated from Bret Harte, and I have a good relationship with staff. I love watching students grow up and seeing them at the grocery store.”
Lane says that the support he received from his students and colleagues during his recovery “was an awakening to find out how amazing the Bret Harte community is.”
“I had staff members at my house almost daily providing food for my family, and the student body was amazing. They created a video for me, singing messages. … I begged the doctor to let me to come back. I was in a wheelchair for a long time, and the staff helped with my schedule to make it easier for me.”
Though Lane says he’s unsure if he will ever be “100 percent,” he is now happy and physically capable. “It’s been a journey for sure.”
Looking forward, Lane hopes to use his experience as a teacher and familiarity with the school to empower teaching staff and allow them “more of a voice and vision in the direction we want to go.”
Another goal that Lane hopes to accomplish heading into the school year is to adequately prepare for Bret Harte’s six-year accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. He also wants to establish a close working relationship with parents and the associated student body, which he says has declined over the past five or six years.
“I want to let them meet in a political sense – as a principal’s cabinet for policies they want to see changed,” said Lane. “I want to be an advocate for students and staff.”
The new school year begins at Bret Harte on Aug. 15.