Full STEAM ahead

Getting to know Gunderson High’s new principal Kevin Wan


Angie Gulizia, Editor in Chief

You might have noticed that there are a few fresh faces on our campus this year. One of them happens to be our new principal, Mr. Wan. You might have a few questions. Who is he? Why did he want to work at Gunderson? And the most long-awaited of them all: what does he even do in his office all day? Lucky for you, he has some answers.

Choosing education

Being a teacher or administrator can be a difficult job, but from what I was told, it can also be very rewarding. Wan decided to go into high school education because he “really enjoyed working with young adults,” and his “high school experience wasn’t the best,” so he “wanted to make sure that would be different with the students that [he] interacted with.” 

Wan also expressed his belief that education goes both ways. “I really enjoy helping others and learning from others,” he said. “So I’ve always felt that being an educator was a kind of a two-way pathway. It allowed me to learn a lot about the younger generation. At the same time, I am educating the younger generation.” You’re always learning!

Wan previously attended UC Davis, San Jose State, and National University for his undergrad, teaching credential, administrative credential, and master’s degree. Wan is still learning in terms of his own education as well; he’s currently finishing up a doctoral program at San Jose State. 

Before coming to Gunderson, he took his qualifications to the classroom. “I was a science teacher at Willow Glen High School for six years…after teaching, I became an administrator. I was a high school assistant principal of instruction and curriculum. I did that for five years,” Wan recalled.


Why Gunderson?

When asked about what drew him to the possibility of working at Gunderson, Wan explained, “It’s a unique opportunity to be a principal. So it happened to be at the right time. Second is when considering the position, I had heard a lot of good things of Gunderson, one being that the students are fantastic…and the staff care very much about the students and the school, and to me, that was very important. It was a no brainer to throw my name in the hat and see.” 

As for one of his goals at Gunderson, he’s hoping to emphasize STEAM curriculum to make classroom education more relevant to today’s work opportunities. “A goal or vision of mine is to take Gunderson in the direction of moving towards STEAM,” he said. “So there’s STEM. STEAM with the A is arts and mainly digital arts. And I think it’s very relevant, and specifically in Silicon Valley, as well as just today’s kind of trend to prepare students with skills that can be transferable to the workforce.” STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. It’s increasingly important in our technology-based society, and digital arts is becoming equally as important with the development of technology.


What does the principal even do?

According to Wan, “The daily responsibilities are obviously overseeing the 1115 students on campus, plus the 100 staff members that are on campus. As far as the duties go, it encompasses the supervision and evaluation of staff members, and it also involves laying out a school plan for student achievement. It’s understanding the logistics behind the operation of the school, the budget of the school.” He also explained that much of his job revolves around meetings and interacting with people to keep the school moving and improving.

Overall, the principal has a lot of responsibilities, even in areas you wouldn’t expect. “The other surprise [coming to Gunderson] is that there’s a lot of paperwork and logistical stuff, and things that I wasn’t aware of…so for example, athletics is a huge component there,” Wan explained. “And so they have another layer of issues, specifically to athletics that principals are informed and involved in.”


All about Mr. Wan

Now for something you probably weren’t expecting. Even though Mr. Wan is pretty soft-spoken today, that wasn’t always the case. When he was in middle school, he “was the student that would talk out of turn, disrupt the class, get my seat moved the following day…” He says that he was “very energetic. One would probably say immature, just kind of doing my own thing.” 

Even though being a principal is a time-consuming job, Wan still has free time to spend. “I’m a big college basketball fan,” he explained. He likes to “watch a lot of college basketball games once that season comes around” and also “lightly go workout.” He will also “watch a show on Netflix when time permits.”

At the end of the interview, Wan wanted to talk about his experience so far in the Gunderson community. “First off,” he recalled, “I just want to echo that I’ve been welcomed here. The Gunderson community as a whole has been very accepting of me. And I’m just very fortunate and hoping that I can continue the Gunderson legacy and history, and just be a good steward for this school, and hopefully make a positive impact for the students that come through Gunderson.”