Principal Spotlight: Diana Herbst, Marguerite Maze Middle School
(Hollister School District)
Diana Herbst is the Principal at Marguerite Maze Middle School in the Hollister School District located in San Benito County. Maze is nestled in a quiet Hollister neighborhood, but when you walk on campus, the excitement and smiling faces make it apparent that this is a very special place. Maze Middle School bristles with activity due to the leadership of Principal Herbst and the school staff. Principal Herbst was born in New Mexico and received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, her master’s from the University of New Mexico and her administrative credential at New Mexico Highlands University. Her career includes being a middle school teacher, a middle school assistant principal, and a high school assistant principal before settling into the principal position at Maze. Asked what her next position would be, she shared that “her heart and passion is with students, so an assistant superintendent of student services would be my calling.” Her Assistant Principal, Emma Veltri, proudly shared that Principal Herbst empowers the school staff to “lead with their strengths and be creative.”
Principal Herbst took on her role at Maze during the 2019-2020 school year, implementing best practices, such as PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support) and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) to facilitate a positive school culture. Then, the pandemic hit but did not deter Herbst’s or Veltri’s focus on student success. A strong nutrition program, with help from the district, included breakfast, lunch and dinner for both staff and students. And all students received of Chromebooks as the school strove to continue its positive school culture during distance learning. “At the end of the first pandemic year, we had a fantastic 8th graduate promotion,” Principal Herbst noted.
This year, Maze has 456 students in 6th, 7th and 8th grade.
Since the return to in-person instruction, the school “has been transformed into a professional learning community” added Principal Herbst. Maze is implementing academic initiatives, such as second language learner acquisition strategies, and the Professional Learning Community process for teachers. Maze has prioritized student well-being and relationship building. In fact, Maze earned the PBIS Silver award during the 2021-2022 school year. “We worked hard in making this award a reality, due to the creation and implementation of strategies supporting the1 positive school culture” Principal Herbst said. The entire school staff has committed to working hard so that Maze is a school students want to attend in San Benito County.
Principal Herbst shared another student success about which she is proud is the reclassification of multilingual learners. Maze has one of the highest reclassification levels in the county with 67 percent being reclassified at the end of 8th grade.
The Professional Learning Community approach allots time for teachers to collaborate on strategies that emphasize and enhance student learning. “This is the most focused and hard-working staff I have experienced in my career” Principal Herbst said.
Both she and Assistant Principal Veltri agree the top three areas that make Maze Middle special are:
- A positive school culture.
- The many enrichment programs throughout the entire school, including the AVID program and CTE offerings.
- The positive relationships built between staff and students.
The Maze Middle School Hawks are flying high under the leadership of both Principal Herbst and her Assistant Principal Veltri.
- Drafted by Dr. Fernando Elizondo, ACSA Region 10 Membership Coordinator