The adults at Encina Preparatory 6-12 wear many hats. At a school with sixth- through 12th-grade students from diverse backgrounds, the staff needs to be adaptable, sensitive and focused. Heidi Garner is a vice principal, handling last names A through G in a school that will see an estimated 1,200 students pass through its doors this school year. She is not just in charge of disciplining students, but she plays the role of advocate, cheerleader and sounding board.
Vice Principal Heidi Garner confiscates a hair pick from a student. The seemingly benign object is considered a potential weapon because of its sharp metal points.
Heidi Garner hugs a middle school student who is upset after getting kicked out of the cafeteria. School staff is trained to consider that small things can set off strong emotions in students whose lives are filled with trauma.
Deborah Luman, left, who heads the cafeteria at Encina, and Heidi Garner bring food back to Garner’s office for a student who missed lunch because of a confrontation with another staff member in the cafeteria.
Heidi Garner talks to students to find out details of an incident that brought four students to her office. When she asks for a student’s side of a story, she often repeats her mantra “free people snitch” to encourage them to speak up.
Heidi Garner and instructional assistant Joyce Marchand share a laugh in the vice principal's office.
Heidi Garner signs a work permit for a 11th-grader Jorg Higgins. Principal Richard Judge looks on. Garner and Judge are proud of Higgins and he’s excited to start working at a nearby KFC.