Over the summer Thomas Jefferson High School hired wrestling coach and former Place Middle School teacher Mike Laurita to become the new Dean of Students for the 2007-2008 school year.
Laurita replaced Bert Fish, the former Dean of Students, who retired last year after 15 years at TJ, 4 of which were as the Dean of Students.
In his new position Laurita is going to deal with mainly discipline, tardies, and attendance issues. “As the Dean of Students I get things done that need to get done. I never know when I’ll be busy or not; as the day goes on, I find out what I’ll be dealing with, and sometimes I can’t get done everything I need to,” said Laurita.
For the upcoming school year, Laurita has many expectations he would like to fulfill. “My biggest goal is to cut down on all of the tardies, absences, and attendance issues in the school. It would be nice to not suspend people, but it is just part of the job,” he said.
“I deal with many problems such as fights, drugs, and gangs, but the biggest problem is classroom discipline,” said Laurita. “There are no specific ways to address these problems. I have to look at them on an individual basis, and try to make the best decision for each case.”
Before coming to work at TJ, Laurita was the Dean of Students at Place Middle School, so he had prior knowledge and experience with the job. “When Fish retired I had the chance to apply for the job, and I was lucky enough to get it,” said Laurita. “I really like it here, and it was a good move on my part.”
“I was one of his biggest advocates for him to get hired here. He truly cares about the kids, and is very knowledgeable about the policies of the district,” said Lani Nobles, the Athletic Director at TJ, who is also in charge of discipline. “He will definitely attack the tardy policy, and is active in the technology of discipline data and management.”
Switching from a middle school to a high school has been a smooth transition for Laurita. “The great thing about high school kids is that they are more pleasant to work with than middle school kids. Here the students understand when they do something wrong.”
“Mr. Laurita will provide continuity and discipline intervention for the students. Along with his actual job he does a lot of student services as well,” said Nobles.
Being the wrestling coach for two years prior to getting his current job, Laurita is not new to TJ or its students. “It’s hard to coach outside of the school building, so working here now makes things so much easier. Plus it’s great to be with the kids,” said Laurita.
Having Laurita in the building is also convenient for the athletes. "Him being here makes things a lot easier. He can keep track of us, and provide us with information about wrestling,” said senior wrestler Dan Mestas.
“Mr. Laurita will do a great job here, and I think he’ll be an important asset to TJ,” said Nobles.