Carver Principal Eases Into 2nd-Year Niche

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Photo courtesy Michael Lin Carver Elementary School Principal Michael Lin, shown here climbing the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, says he gets his best ideas about education while hiking and backpacking.
Photo courtesy Michael Lin
Carver Elementary School Principal Michael Lin, shown here climbing the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, says he gets his best ideas about education while hiking and backpacking.

This time last year, Michael Lin was preparing for the dawn of his first year as a principal at Carver Elementary School.
As the former assistant principal at Huntington Middle School, Lin bore a familiarity with San Marino Unified School District that lent itself advantages in the transition. In the heat of summer vacation, Lin indicated that planning for his second year as principal feels routine at this point.
“You know, it passed by very quickly,” he said. “It was a very fast 12 months. I love it. It’s phenomenal. I have an amazing staff and very supportive parents.
“It was mainly getting to know the folks at Carver, the culture and traditions,” Lin added. “I had to build relationships with the faculty and staff. By the end of this year, I felt like I was here the whole time.”
It was late June when Lin interviewed for this story, and he did so by calling from the office phone at Carver. He said being at school in the height of summer isn’t unusual for him and he tends to find time to stop by in between his hiking, backpacking or camping.
“It’s a non-work day and I came in to do some planning already,” he said.
Superintendent Alex Cherniss lauded that quality about Lin.
“The thing that I like about Michael is that he’s always reflecting on his practice,” Cherniss said. “He’s always trying to get better and evaluating how things went and planning to improve.”
The ideas for the planning, he said, come from the aforementioned activities outdoors.
“Even while hiking last week, my brain was running,” he explained. “It gives me focus. When there’s only pain in your knees or legs, you’re focused on your next destination. Your brain just naturally focuses on real, solid objectives.”
At the time, Lin was coming off a trip to Mt. Wilson, up in the San Gabriel Mountains, and was on the eve of an RV beach trip with his family at Leo Carrillo State Park near Malibu (after, of course, making a work-related presentation in Arcadia). The next week, he and his family spent two days and nights backpacking and camping on Mt. San Jacinto just west of Palm Springs.
“I get my most creative thoughts while I’m driving or walking,” Lin explained, “so hiking really allows me to dive deep into these solutions.”
Cherniss said Lin had “big shoes to fill” when he was hired last year and has only justified his selection as Carver’s principal since then.
“He came in following a principal who’d been there for 20 years and that can be a big challenge,” Cherniss said. “He’s helped take Carver to the next level. He’s really gotten to know the community and he has a lot of support from the parents, teachers and students.”

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