The 2018/19 school year is the first time Burlingame will have not one, but two assistant vice principals. Markus Autrey and Michele Fichera have both been hired to take on the position, and they will be working alongside current vice principal Valerie Arbizu.
Despite being hired for the same position, the new assistant principals will have different responsibilities. Autrey will be in charge of ninth and tenth grade, while Fichera will oversee upperclassmen.
Autrey taught high school English in St. Louis and Philadelphia before becoming an assistant principal in St. Louis. He then moved to California, where he was the principal at Los Gatos High School for eight years. Last year, he worked as a vice principal at Burlingame Intermediate School. However, when an opportunity for a permanent vice principal position popped up at Burlingame, Autrey applied for the job.
“I wanted to be part of a team, a really good, functioning, trusting team workwise,” Autrey said. “I like community schools, and this is a community school,” he said, referring to how supportive and connected people are at BHS.
Fichera taught every history class available during her 13 years at Capuchino High School, in addition to serving as activities director. She worked at the district office for four years before taking up her current position; this is her first time being an assistant principal.
“I have worn a lot of different hats in education throughout my career, and I always feel like I want to learn more or learn how something is done,” Fichera said.
The vice principals’ responsibilities are similar. They both oversee facilities, carry out student discipline and work with athletics.
Besides working with the freshman class, Autrey administers Service Commission, works with the athletic director and oversees the after-school homework program. He intends to move the school’s goals forward by allowing students to be more inclusive and trying to increase school spirit.
“I want to contribute to a place where, as students and adults, we can all work together,” he said.
Fichera’s responsibilities include carrying out student discipline, overseeing student activities and supervising the facilities.
“There is not almost a part of the school that I don’t interact with in some way,” Fichera said.
Autrey and Fichera both face the usual obstacles when it comes to getting used to a new school and a new environment. However, they will use their decorated backgrounds in education to get used to becoming Panthers.