When Adam Auerbach took over as Lodi High School’s newest leader this summer, his top priority was to examine the campus’s culture and see if it needs to be changed.

“Coming on in July, this was a good fresh start,” he said. “I’d like to see what needs to be changed, see what works well, and determine what we can do with that.”

The 35-year-old Auerbach, who was vice principal at Tokay High last year, previously served as assistant principal at Lodi for three years under former principal Bob Lofsted.

When Lofsted retired at the close of the 2018-19 school year, Auerbach stepped in to take over on an interim basis.

“Being here three years as an assistant principal, I’ve got a good understanding of school culture,” he said. “I intend to work with my colleagues and the students to make sure we have a team approach when developing a somewhat new culture here.”

When he talks about campus culture, Auerbach refers to what students are talking about, what is being discussed in class, and if they are invested in Lodi High School as much as they can be.

When the school held its freshman orientation in late July, Auerbach said he told incoming students to find something about school they enjoy and commit to it if they want to succeed.

“I told them to be committed here at school,” he said. “You have to be invested in something if you want a reason to be here. Find anything — sports, clubs.”

The high school already has strategies in place to make campus culture a pleasurable experience, including the Lead by Example program, he said.

The program includes rewarding students at the end of the week who have done something positive around campus, such as taking the initiative to clean up litter, helping other students, or simply behaving in an appropriate way during school hours.

“We’ve had a vaping issue here, and I’ve had students who have been caught doing it come to me and ask how they can help with the situation on campus,” Auerbach said. “It’s just amazing to have kids wanting to lead in a variety of ways on campus. It can’t just be the adults who do it.”

Transitioning from assistant to principal has been somewhat of a challenge, he said.

As an assistant principal. Auerbach said his focus was primarily student safety and leadership. Stepping into the principal role, he said he has had to learn to balance a variety of issues that occur on campus, including safety, parent inquiries, staffing and communicating with the district office, among others.

A native of Sherman Oaks, Auerbach graduated from Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, then attended California State University, Northridge.

After college, he taught English at his former high school and a middle school in Sherman Oaks for a few years before he and his wife decided to move to Sacramento.

However, on their way to the state capital, they stopped in Lodi, where his wife grew up.

By chance, Auerbach met former Lodi Unified School District superintendent Bill Huyett.

He said when he told Huyett he was a teacher looking for work, the administrator said Lodi Unified staff would be contacting him. 

He was hired shortly after that meeting, he said, teaching English at Millswood Middle School for seven years before moving on to Lodi High.

Auerbach said that almost immediately after being hired by the district, he fell in love with the town. He and his wife now have four children, some of whom are now students in the district.

“I love how you seem to know somebody everywhere you go in Lodi,” he said. “In L.A., there’s a disconnect because nobody knows anybody. And the mobilization to anywhere around this town is unbelievable. I can leave my driveway and find a parking space in five minutes.”

Auerbach said he hopes his tenure as principal — however long that may be — reflects how he has invested in the culture and people of Lodi High School.

“I want people to feel valued here,” he said. “I want students, parents and my staff to know that if they have a problem or concern, they can come to me, and we can speak face to face about it.”

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