By Mary O’KEEFE
Rosemont Middle School held its Howdy Day on Monday welcoming the seventh graders to the school. But it was also a Howdy Day for the two new assistant principals.
Sebastian Puccio and Adriana Pestonji will begin their first year at Rosemont and both can’t wait to get started.
Puccio started his educational career as a middle school teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District. He was a teacher for 12 years there until he moved to the Glendale Unified School District where he worked as coordinator for Administrative Services.
Puccio moved into Ron Sower’s office, the school’s iconic assistant principal who served for 44 years at Rosemont before retiring this year. He has changed the office around, moved the desk, added new pictures and made it his own.
He said his door is open to both parents and students and wants them to feel free to approach him with any questions or just to talk; however, there are still rules that must be followed.
“There is a balance between discipline and [guidance],” he said.
On Monday he read the rules to the parents and students, which included the dress code and conduct. He said some of the parents and students reacted to the rules and some thought they were strict.
“These rules are set in place to keep kids safe,” he said.
Puccio remembers what middle school was like.
“I remember middle school. I was embarrassed when my dad dropped me off at school,” he said. “It’s [a] tough time.”
But Puccio has a real connection with middle school.
“One reason I love [middle school] is my family arrived in the U.S. when I was in seventh grade from Argentina,” he said. “The teachers in middle school gave me emotional and academic support.”
He didn’t speak English when he arrived and his science teacher took the time to help him learn English, even though she did not speak Spanish.
“We communicated through a [type of] sign language,” he said. “I still stay in touch with her.”
And Puccio has been paying it forward; in his office is a framed letter from one of his middle school students, a girl from the Dominican Republic. She thanked him for his patience and his support.
Pestonji found out she was going to be moving from her principal seat at Valley View Elementary School to assist. principal at Rosemont at the end of the last school year.
“It [is] a different experience,” she said of her move.
She too is looking forward to her new job, but she has a slight advantage over Puccio.
“I will know one-sixth of my students here,” she said.
Pestonji will be happy to see familiar faces in the hallways as her Valley View kids transition to seventh grade.
“The dynamics of the school are very different,” she said of Rosemont.
She is getting to know the teachers, the students and the way Rosemont runs.
The students are really involved with so many clubs and activities, she said.
When it comes to discipline, Puccio and Pestonji have divided the students according to grades with Pestonji taking seventh graders and Puccio taking eighth.
Pestonji will also have an open door policy and invites parents and students to feel free to stop by with questions or to just talk.
Both assistant principals are excited about starting their first year at Rosemont.
“It is incredible here. Everyone is so kind and so caring. There is a great energy here and I think that starts with Dr. [Cynthia] Livingston… There is a lot of laughter with the adults and the kids,” Puccio said. “There is an incredible amount of respect. When you walk down the hallway with Dr. Livingston you can see the respect when the kids say hello.”
Pestonji is also excited about beginning the new year and still is reaching back to her elementary school experience to help the middle school.
“We were short on volunteers for Howdy Day,” she said. “I called some moms from Valley View.”
Within a few minutes they had enough parents sign up to volunteer.
“And [one of the moms] said call me any time you need help,” she said.