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As the new school year commences, you never know what to expect. Every year you have to prepare for new people, classes and, in our case, new administration. We caught up with North’s 4 new team members and asked them how they feel about the year to come. Here’s what they had to say:

Benjamin Nakamura

Background: Benjamin Nakamura grew up in the city of Corona and attended Santiago High School. Before coming to North, Nakamura was a middle school math teacher and principal and taught for juvenile court and community schools. Nakamura is currently the principal.

My goal for the school year is the same for students, parents, all staff members and everybody in the community; I want everybody … to feel safe and welcomed at North and also to feel proud to be a part of North. So when a teacher says ‘I teach at north’ I want them to hold their head up high and say ‘I teach at John W. North High School. We’re the best.’ And I want the parents to feel that way that when they bring their students to school here. I didn’t choose North, North chose me. It was the perfect school for my passion and skill. All administrators can work with [our] kids and … at [North] you really have to be able to work with all types of kids.

Dennis Brown

Background: Dennis Brown started out at North as a special education teacher and the student adviser for 14 years overseeing special education. Brown has also filled the position as athletic director and coached the football team. He has also worked at Riverside Poly High School as the head football coach and at Martin Luther King High School as an administrator in charge of athletics. Brown is currently the assistant principal of discipline.

“My job entails a lot of things but most importantly keeping the students, teachers and staff safe on campus. [Along] with that I oversee the campus supervisors and their role on our campus and interact with students to make sure that they feel like North is a safe place. I’m looking forward to being back at North. I was here for 18 years and I’ve been gone for four years so I’m excited to be back and interact with the community.”


Virginia Burroughs

Background: Virginia Burroughs grew up in Riverside and graduated from North in 1977. Burroughs has worked at Sierra Middle School as a registrar, at Longfellow Elementary school as assistant principal, at Liberty Elementary School as principal secretary and at Central Middle School as principal secretary for 11 years. She ended her job at Central in June and started at North the following day. Burroughs is currently the principal’s secretary.

“My biggest goal is to accommodate the teachers and support staff and students the best that I can. I had all summer to acclimate, I got to meet people here and there. Everyday I would walk around the campus just to see where everything was. I just want to support Mr. Nakamura, he seems to be young, enthusiastic and has great ideas. I hope I can keep up. Since I’ve been here its been great and fun.”

Jodi Gonzales

Background: Jodi Gonzales was born and raised in New York but moved to California in the summer of 2001. Gonzales worked at Ramona High School for five years as a teacher and assistant principal, at Riverside Poly High School for one year and at the district office for six years. This will be her first year at North and 17th year in the Riverside Unified School District. Gonzales is currently the assistant principal of counseling.

“I work with the counselors and the guidance team and we create the master schedule. We assign classes to teachers and then we have to balance it to make sure that we have seats for every student … periods zero through seven. I would like to increase the graduation rate and A-G rate because it gives [students] more choices after high school. I’m not an advocate that all kids need to go to college but I am an advocate that every student has every opportunity open to them.”

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