OAKLAND -- The Montera Middle School community met its new principal, Darren Avent, on June 11 at the school's multipurpose room.
Avent, a native of New York, was briefly an assistant principal at Montera in the spring of 2011, when he moved to the West Coast, before becoming principal of Kaiser Elementary School, where he says he rebuilt the school's culture.
He also was a vice principal at Science Park High School in New Jersey. The school was a national blue ribbon school. Avent spent six years in the U.S. Marine Corps before attending the University of Massachusetts.
Avent will succeed Tina Tranzor, who is leaving Montera after two years as the school's principal. Avent was an assistant principal under Tranzor's predecessor, Russom Mesfun, who was the school's principal from 2007-2012.
"I'm confident that Montera will be in good hands," Mesfun said. "He was very professional, a good listener and worked very well with kids, adults and parents. I wish him the best success. I believe he is going to do good things for Montera."
When asked by parents, Avent said that he plans to stay at the school for a while, barring any changes in assignment from the school district. Montera is the largest middle school in Oakland, serving 950 students from all over the city. Parents have expressed concerns about the school's culture.
Avent said that he has some ideas of how to solidify the school's culture but doesn't want to reveal them until he gets a feel for the current situation at the school.
"I plan to do a lot of listening and ask a lot of questions," Avent said. "I like to vet things with people. I believe in teamwork. Sometimes I get overruled, and that's OK.
"If students feel it is their school, they will take care of it. Students are part of the team," Avent continued. "We are going to get the job done, We will disagree along the way, but we will stay focused.
"Everything that's needed is already here," he said. "It's just bringing it out."