Get to Know Your New Principal

After a long year of turbulence, Wilson has entered a transition year led by our new principal Filip Hristic. The former principal of Roosevelt is thrilled to finally be working at a high school in his own community.  He hopes to bring a new wave of communication, accountability, and community to Wilson. He has high expectations for our school and years of experience personal and professional, that he is ready to bring to the table. 

Born in Serbia, Hirstic made the move from Serbia to Los Angeles with his family in the seventh grade. A year later the family moved again to Boston ultimately. Hiristic finished his education in Boston receiving a masters in philosophy from Boston College and a doctorate in education in leadership from Harvard University. 

“I graduated from college with a degree in philosophy, [and] I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Hiristic said. “I just felt like I was searching for meaning to life. I was full of these existential questions. What is this all for?” 

During this time Hiristic grew as a person and as a professional. Spending time teaching social studies in the Boston area gave him access to perspectives that changed his view on his own privileges. After teaching in Boston from 2000-2007, Hiristic began expanding his interest into the administrative aspect of education. 

“I love teaching. I loved working with students. I also loved thinking about big picture things that were not necessarily related just to my classroom,” Hristic said.

While in Boston Hristic met his future wife. Once married, they made the decision that it was time to move. For them, the Pacific Northwest was their ideal spot to settle down. Hiristic began to apply for positions in the Oregon area. 

“My wife and I decided to move to either Portland or Seattle.” Hrisitc said “She is from Alaska and she said that she really wanted to be with me, but she didn’t want to live in Boston, and I said, I really want to be with you, but I don’t want to be in Alaska, so we decided on Portland,” 

Hrisitc interviewed for a position as a principal of Newberg High School and stayed there for 4 years. He spent this time understanding what it means to be a principal, however he knew this position wasn’t long term. Hristic them spent a brief period of time as a principal of an elementary school before taking on a principal position at Roosevelt High School. 

“Roosevelt is much bigger, much more complicated, and I experienced the limitations of what I alone can do,¨ Hiristic said. ¨I really had to shift and think less about what I am doing, and more about how am I helping other people engage in their work.”

Hiristic oversaw and lead Roosevelt through a major transition. For the past few years, Roosevelt was rebuilt while the students were placed in the Marshall campus. During this time, Hiristic was collaborating with students and teachers, addressing issues and keeping the school running as normal as possible. With such a big school, collaboration was key to keeping the school in order.

“I learned how to step back a little bit in hopes of helping others step forward,” Hiristic said.

Hiristic brings with him the skills that he honed in communication and collaboration. With a year of hate speech, vandalism, and scandal, he believes that these tactics are just what Wilson needs. 

“This place isn’t perfect, but no school is, and the imperfections are just invitations to invest additional time and energy,” Hristic said. 

Going into Wilson, Hristic has high expectations for students. He hopes to make expectations for students as clear as possible, and welcomes discussing issues or concerns directly with the student body. After Wilson ́s rocky year, he has no doubt that this year will be better. 

“I’m not much on social media, but I started a Twitter account,” Hiristic said. “Coming into this community, especially on the heels of what happened last year, I felt like I needed to have my own way of pushing that information immediately.”

Scandals within the student body and school faculty were not always handled with the utmost transparency on behalf of the district and school. Hiristic hopes to bring a wave of transparency to combat scandals and rumors.

Every high school experiences the ̈not so fun ̈ aspects of educating young adults. Hate speech, sexual assault, and violence have integrated themselves into high schools, and Wilson is no exception. Hrisitic’s hope is to open up an administrative and teaching team that is willing to listen and communicate with the student body and community.

“Schools exist in a larger socio-political context, and what happens inside schools is often times a reflection of what’s happening in the world around us, whether we’re talking about hateful rhetoric against immigrants, racial slurs, or disrespectful comments about women. Those things occur in schools not out of nowhere,” Hristic said. 

 Wilson will always have its ups and downs. However having a principal that cares about the community, listens to the needs of the student body, and is dedicated to communication, will lead our school in the right direction. 

“I’m a principal because I believe public schools are the bedrock of democratic societies. They shouldn’t just prepare students for the real world, they should create the world that we want our students to live in. I want us to create a school that values inclusion.”

Words by Ginger Felberg