New Sunny Hills administrator brings extensive experience from La Habra
New assistant principal Melissa Stinson works in her office dealing with tasks given to her at her new position. Photo taken by Paul Yasutake.

 “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

Willliam Shakespeare’s character, Lucio, makes this statement to Isabella, the protagonist of the play, Measure for Measure.

Lucio’s advice has also been adopted by new assistant principal Melissa Stinson, who found the quote through a Shakespearean course at California State University, Fullerton. She uses the character’s words as motivation as she seeks new opportunities in life. 

“I try to live my life by Lucio’s advice and remind myself that in all things, it is better to try and fail than not to try at all,” said Stinson, who replaced Craig Weinreich July 1 as assistant principal of instruction and operations. 

Weinreich was transferred to Fullerton Union High School as its assistant principal of student affairs.

“When District administration shared with me that there was an opportunity for me to serve students, teachers and families in a new capacity in the community in which I live here at Sunny Hills, there was no way I could turn that opportunity down,” she said. “I love learning and challenging myself to grow both personally and professionally.  If we shy away from change, we will never discover our true potential.”  

Stinson’s educational journey in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District started in 2004 when she was a student English teacher assigned to La Habra High School, where she was hired to join the staff the following year. 

She coached La Habra’s varsity cheerleading team from 2007-2012, was an Advancement Via Individual Determination teacher and coordinator from 2009-2014, a journalism teacher and Highlander Student Targeted Enrichment Program coordinator from 2011-2014 and oversaw the yearbook staff from 2012-2014. 

In 2014, Stinson took on another challenge — this time joining the school’s administrative team as the dean of academic services from 2014-2015, assistant principal of student activities from 2015-2016 and assistant principal of pupil services from 2016-2019.

At Sunny Hills, she hopes to add to her extensive educational and leadership background.

“My goals for this first year at Sunny Hills are to get to know as many students and families as possible, create positive relationships with staff and entrench myself in the Lancer culture and pride,” Stinson said.

Although for many, the transition to a new school site might be challenging, Stinson’s prior experience of working with principal Allen Whitten and assistant principal Hilda Arredondo at La Habra may make it easier for her.

“Since I also transferred from La Habra to Sunny Hills, I think that it’s kind of fun now that we’re working together at the same school again,” Whitten said.

Arredondo points to Stinson’s work ethic and passion to help high school students as factors that will ease her colleague’s transition to a new campus.

“[Stinson] had a variety of roles [at La Habra], so I admired how she was always willing to help the community,” she said. “I think that [Stinson] is a natural leader and very creative, which I think will make her great for her new position.”

From his experience working with Stinson in the past, Whitten said he has observed that she can maintain her professionalism under any circumstance.

“She has a very even demeanor,” he said. “She does not get too excited or too upset about things, which are important in leadership.”

Stinson said she has also learned from her peers about what it means to be an administrator in the district.

“They taught me that school leadership is most effective when it’s collaborative, begins with good listening and is underpinned by an understanding that everyone who works in the school deserves respect and a voice,” she said. 

Other than Stinson’s educational experience, she said she enjoys staying physically active through intense spin exercise classes because they help push her daily drive and determination to get things done. 

“I have had a Peloton spin bike for a few years, and I am able to get my rides in early in the morning before I come to school,” said Stinson, who rides fives days a week and records around 300 miles per month. “Being active boosts my mood, lets me feel more relaxed [and] also helps me keep up with my family.”

Along with maintaining her fitness, she focuses on her role as a mother to a kindergarten daughter and second-grade son, who are currently attending Golden Hill Elementary School in Fullerton. Stinson is not only excited for her new administrative position here, but she is also looking forward to registering her children at Sunny Hills within the next seven to eight years.

“They are excited that I am at Sunny Hills and have been given the opportunity to become a Lancer,” Stinson said. “[My children] are excited to join me at school functions and activities for years to come.“ 

As Stinson has begun a new chapter here, she finds value in her 15-year tenure at La Habra and the time that she will spend working at Sunny Hills.

“Although there will always be a special place in my heart for La Habra and all of the people I met and built relationships with along the way, I’ve got a pretty big heart with lots of room left,” she said.

That sentiment echoes back to her life quote from Shakespeare’s Lucio — trying than not at all.

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