Mr. Mayfield, sorry it’s still habit to refer to principals with a title. Rick Mayfield started his teaching career on skid row in Los Angeles, this is after spending time in Belize teaching teachers, and before he headed to Namibia for a three-year teaching stint.

It was following his time in Africa that he heard about a school in San Luis Obispo that was going into its kindergarten year with a novel concept, dual immersion.

Mayfield, who just started year 12 as principal at Pacheco Elementary School in SLO, has been through a lot in his nearly 20 years as an educator and he still gets excited for the first day of school.

Mayfield recently stood at his desk, the tiny chairs are hard on his knees, and talked with the Chamber about the best way to get the attention of a room full of children, reprimanding in two languages, and why pizza day is better than corn dog day. Get ready for the best Spanish lesson of your day.

The best way to silence a room of children is…
Start reading a book or telling a story.
Empezar a leer un libro o contar una historia.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A diplomat. I wanted to live overseas.
Un diplomático. Quería vivir en el extranjero.

What do you most admire in other people?
Intelligence, kindness, sensitivity, sense of humor.
Inteligencia, amabilidad, sensibilidad, sentido del humor.

Which word or phrase do you most overuse?
Do I make myself clear, young man….
¿Estoy claro, jovencito?

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Tom Hanks.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
There’s a lot of grey out there, not so much black and white.
Hay un montón de gris por ahí, no tanto en blanco y negro.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Nelson Mandela. Can you imagine spending 26 years as a political prisoner and then to forgive his captors as he did and lead with such grace. Amazing.
Nelson Mandela. Te imaginas pasar 26 años como prisionero político y luego perdonar a sus captores como lo hizo y conducir con tal gracia. Asombroso!

You’re around kids all day, do you have any parenting tips?
Absolutely none. Good luck with that.
Absolutamente ninguno. Buena suerte con eso.

What was the weirdest reason a kid was sent to your office?
First week as an administrator 17 years ago a student was sent to the office for “hearing voices”. I thought, wow, they didn’t really cover that in the credential program!
La primera semana como administrador hace 17 años un estudiante fue enviado a la oficina para “escuchar voces”. Pensé, wow, que realmente no hablaron de eso en el programa de credenciales!

Have you ever gotten used to sitting on tiny chairs?
No, hurts my knees when I get up.
No, me duele las rodillas cuando me levanto.

Do you have to reprimand in two languages?
Yes, always better to connect with children in the language of their mother. The discussion has a much bigger impact on them.
Sí, siempre es mejor hablar con los niños en el idioma de su madre. La discusión tiene un impacto mucho mayor en ellos.

Pizza day or corn dog day?
Pizza for sure. Corn dogs are a choking hazard with little ones.
Pizza seguro. Los perros de maíz son un peligro de asfixia con los pequeños.

You know you are a principal when…
You are recognized EVERYWHERE.
Usted es reconocido POR TODAS PARTES.

What is your most memorable moment as a principal?
So many, maybe the discussion with a group of kids who were throwing dice for quarters at recess. Classic!
Tantos, tal vez la discusión con un grupo de niños que estaban tirando dados por monedas en el recreo. ¡Clásico!