Principal Profile – June 2020 – Ethan Gray – Rio Vista Middle School

Ethan Gray


Rio Vista Middle School

1st Year as Rio Vista Principal


This is Mr. Gray’s 1st year serving Rio Vista Middle School students as principal. Before working in Rio he served as an assistant principal in the Ventura Unified School District at both the middle and high school levels.  

 Mr. Gray earned a Bachelor’s degree at the University of California at Santa Barbara and went on to earn his teaching credential and masters in education administration at California State University Northridge.

 Mr. Gray comes to Rio after a distinguished career as an educator in Ventura. His entry comes at the most challenging time perhaps in any person’s educational career. He brings poise, thoughtfulness and a keen awareness and focus on family, well being, and learner achievement. These times are demanding great utilization of technology and this area aligns well with Mr. Gray’s skills and interests.

 We asked Mr. Gray the following three questions and his responses follow each;

 What do you think matters most to children when they attend school?

 In my experience I believe children want to be cared for, loved, and seen.  Children want to come to a school that they feel a part of and that is a place where they can be themselves and know that the adults care deeply about them.  I also have learned that all children want the adults at school to see the good in them, recognize their strengths, and guide and challenge them.   An additional way that children want to be cared for, is to be engaged in meaningful and relevant learning that is challenging, while also accessible and appropriate. Lastly I think that the social aspect of school is of paramount importance to children.  They want to play, talk with, and just be with friends.  Children want to find their place with people they trust and relate to.

How has your leadership changed over time and experience?

Over my 12 years as a school site leader, I have developed a solid foundation focused on relationships, humility, and leading with assumptions of best intent and kindness.  I began my career as a leader that worked hard and got things done, however that sometimes came at the  expense of building relationships and practicing empathy for all people that make up the school community.  I now understand the importance of balancing efficiency with making time to build connections. I have learned that serving and valuing all people within the school community is how to best lead a school. Through service comes the opportunity and duty to practice empathy with all children, parents, teachers, classified staff, coaches, intervention teachers, fellow administrators, and the list goes on.  In addition, my leadership has evolved over time just as my teaching did when I was in the classroom.  I began, in many ways trying to model myself after others and attempting to take on characteristics and methods that were not fully my own.  I have, and continue to, develop my own my own style and approach, which I believe has strengthened my leadership through relationships built on honesty, transparency, integrity, and trust.

 What has working in schools meant to you in terms of your own development as a person, husband, and father?

 Working in schools has really allowed me to see how very different all people are.  All students want to succeed and all parents want the best for their children.  Although all people approach school and life differently, those differences should be embraced and honored. In working with various students and families over the years, it is clear that one size does not fit all.   I have become a more empathetic person after 16 years in education.  As a husband, each day I continue to gain more understanding of just how important a loyal, supportive, unselfish, and wise wife is.  I am more aware of how blessed I am each day as my wife and I raise our children and we support each other.  As a father I have learned to be more patient because of my work in schools.  I have learned that each of my own children thrive with different approaches, love, and patience,  just as the students I have served over the years.  


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