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Surguine settling in as new VAHS Principal

Vista Alternative High School Principal Brett Surguine’s new office was still being furnished when the 2018-19 school year was fast-approaching.

Surguine was officially named the new VAHS leader on July 25, the new campus was slated to earn its certificate of occupancy a day later, and school was to begin a week after that. But the eight-year Yuma Union High School District veteran had prepared for the task throughout his career in education.

“I decided I wanted to work in education after volunteering at a Boys & Girls club in Phoenix,” Surguine said. “It was rewarding and enriching work and it made me want to be a part of helping young men and women succeed.”

Since that original experience, Surguine, who is from Scottsdale, has earned two master’s degrees in Secondary Education and Education Leadership from Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University – Yuma, respectively. He began his tenure in Yuma in 2010 as a teacher at Kofa High School and has served as an assistant principal at Yuma High School and Gila Ridge High School before moving to Vista Alternative.

“Mr. Surguine is innovative, compassionate, respected, and a visionary,” said YUHSD Associate Superintendent Lisa Anderson, who oversees Vista Alternative High School. “His focus is always on the students and how we, as dedicated professionals, can work together to make a difference in their lives.”

Even in his brief time on the job, Surguine has made a point of understanding how to connect with students at Vista Alternative.

“I have so much respect for every student who has taken the risk of trying something new because they want to do better,” Surguine said. “And that's what Vista is. It is a small community of very invested students who have chosen to make a change and forge a new path forward. Vista is a very empowering school.”

Making VAHS feel empowering for its more than 150 students, has been made easier by the opening of its new campus at 3150 S. Avenue A, allowing teachers and administrators a bit of a clean slate.

“We've been able to set a very positive tone with our new building,” Surguine said. “It's a welcoming, warm, clean, beautiful space. It is very important to us that we build a positive school climate and culture and the new facility is helping us make that happen.”

Eric Patten