A message from Mr. McClenahan

Hello HTLA Community.


In this difficult time, we know it is possible many of us are struggling emotionally.  Here are two resources for some mental health support.

1.       This is a message I got from a group at LAUSD we partner with:

a.       LAUSD has opened a phone hotline for all students, families and teachers to help manage fear, anxiety and other challenges related to COVID-19.  

b.       The phone hotline – 213-241-3840 – will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, staffed by counselors and mental health professionals to provide support in both English and Spanish.  

c.       Teachers can also call and get advice on how to connect their students to services.  

d.       Questions can also be sent to mentalhealth@lausd.net.


2.       Also, we have a partnership with IMCES who works with our students and gives them emotional support. 

a.       IMCES works with students who have Medi-cal. 

b.       If you are interested in having your student virtually meet with a therapist, email Ms. Bender (Ms.Bender@ht-la.org).  She will fill out a referral to have IMCES contact with you to set up an intake phone call. 

c.       For families that don't have Medi-cal, but would like some extra mental health support, you can also call or email Ms. Bender and she will help work with your family to help find some mental health resources.  


To my thoughts:

I hope this finds you all healthy and safe.  I am having a good Friday so I thought I would get slightly more personal today.  I used to teach a philosophy class here (and I am jealous of Ms. Jarret’s amazing philosophy class!)  So, on occasion I have been known to think deeply and be wordy in my expression of those thoughts.  So, please forgive my little bit of self-indulgence as I try to explain some of my recent thinking.  For those of you not interested in the ramblings of a Gen X (not a Boomer!) principal, there is some more celebratory content at the bottom of this message.  Make sure you read to the end!

My personal experience in this time of turmoil  is one of frustration and slow adjustment.  This whole situation is so far less than ideal that it has impacted us in every part of our lives.  For us at HTLA, we have spent the last few weeks trying to build a new school that has the same fundamentals as our site-based school.  We know that we can’t replace the students’ exact experience.  The different schedule, the distance, and the flipped classrooms change all the educational dynamics of a system we have spent nearly 20 years building.  It felt (feels) like we had to go back to the beginning.  It is frustrating for us to have to make big decisions with only partial information and with very little ability to predict what is coming next.  Partial answers satisfy no one.  Knowing we can’t control the entirety of world events, we instead have tried to focus on what we want for and from students.  In other words, we are doing the best we can and know that, while sometimes unsatisfying, it is all we can do.  We want the same from our students.

We want students to persevere.  We want them to do their best.  We often use the phrase, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” when we are planning new activities.  We know that nothing is going to be perfect for every single student and family.  But we also know we have to continue to try new things, to progress.  This is the only way to improve.  This goes for students as well.  The only way to improve is to try.  It won’t be perfect.  But if students do their best, if they give their true effort to learn and progress, we can help.  There are no shortcuts to success, but we are here to partner with you on the journey.

So, students, over the next few months, try.  Do your best and stay in communication with us.  Give us your best and we can help you.  If there is something keeping you from doing your best, ask for help.  We are here.  Everyone at HTLA wants you to succeed.  Let us help you.

We want students to focus on learning.  Unfortunately, one of the unintended consequences of going to a high achieving school is that students, and parents, can focus too intently on grades.  People think of grade point averages (GPAs) and college acceptances and what grade they got on that assignment.  Of course all these things are important, but this focus on the score is self-limiting.  It also gives away power to the instructor.  If a student is judging success solely on the grade someone else gives them, the power in the process resides in the grader.  But this is upside down and backwards.  If a student focuses on learning as much as they can, there is no limit on how far they can go.  If a student focuses on their own progress, they take back the power.  Success doesn’t show up as a grade.  Success shows as learning more than you knew before.  Success becomes personal and not just a mark on a report card.

Our current situation has amplified this.  Teachers and students are more distant.  If students focus solely of grades, this increased distance further removes the students’ power in their learning.  Instead, focus on learning and partner with our teachers to help you continue to make progress. 

Graduation from high school is a big deal.  But the end of high school is capped with a commencement ceremony.  Commencement means “beginning.”  High school is not an end.  It is a beginning   It is easy to overlook this.   It is a means to an end.  The end is the successful lives our students will lead.  We want happy, well-adjusted students with as many options as they can have.  Every person walks their own path.  Our goal is to help students prepare for whatever is going to come next for them.  We emphasize collaboration because that is the nature of the world now.  We use as much technology in a practical way as we can because the world has moved in that direction.  We require a great deal of presentation because the ability to publicly state your opinion is a highly-prized skill and is transferrable across almost every career.  We value and reward creativity and personal connection to the learning because we know each individual is different and therefore requires support of their individuality.

Our current world has stirred all this up.  But we want to focus on what we think matters most.  Students need to do their best.  Complete the assignments.  Go to the Live Sessions.  Attend tutoring sessions.  Send questions to your teachers.  Do your best and let us help you.  Together we can do this!

Okay, that is enough of that.