A Day With Beutner

Filling in the position as a student journalist, I had the opportunity to follow and report on Beutner’s first day back at work. Here’s how it went.



Superintendent Austin Beutner with student journalists Saul Vega, Valeria Luquin and Mhar Tenorio. (l

By Mhar Tenorio, Online Editor-in-Chief

I stood in front of Van Nuys High School at 5:00 AM. It’s the first day back at school and students are expected to come back, but I’m a little early. I had to meet with someone whom I have only known through emails. We saw each other and introduced ourselves and I went inside her car. 

She was really nice. We had to travel almost 40 miles and we had to get there before 6:30 AM. She put on some jazz music and made light conversation. We have been exchanging emails regarding this day for a week now. 

One week before school started, I received a text message from my Journalism advisor, Mr. Goins, about a big opportunity. The district wanted a journalist from VNHS to write a report on LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner’s workday on the first day of school. 

Beutner was to visit ten different locations from every corner of the second largest school district of the nation, addressing persisting district-wide issues. 

After I accepted the offer, I was able to get in touch with multiple district staff, including Irene Hyland, who was driving me to the second location Beutner was going to. I went with two other student journalists–Valeria from Daniel Pearl High School and Saul from Redondo Continuation High School.

When we got there, it was pretty overwhelming. Cameras and people everywhere. We were passed to another staff member, Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, the Interim Chief Academic Officer.

She introduced me to various LAUSD employees, such as Local District South Superintendent Michael Romero, and Community Support Administrator Lou Mardesich.

We had the opportunity to ask them questions before they took the podium. This made me realize the difference between being a student journalist and a professional journalist. 

As a staff writer for The Mirror, I would write articles about campus-related news and talk to campus staff for supplemental quotes. If I missed information, I could easily come back to them. This time, however, this chance was my only chance and I had to come up with the right questions on the spot. You have to ask the hard-hitting questions to get the relevant answers. 

After Mr. Beutner spoke in front of the cameras, there was a press conference where professional journalists along with us student journalists got the opportunity to ask Mr. Beutner questions. While my ears rang with the sound of cameras flashing, I tried focusing to ask the right question this time. 

The next stops were less busy. There were no press conferences, no cameras and no reporters. It was mostly just Beutner standing in front of students and staff addressing issues or achievements in that specific school. 

This also meant, however, that I did not get to spend that much time with Beutner. The events were quick and he would leave the site before the student journalists got the chance to talk to him personally. 

Out of the ten stops, I only had the opportunity to personally talk to him three times. 

Other than the press conference, we and students from Cortines High had lunch with Beutner and Grammy-award winning producer Greg Wells. Lunch was quick, however, and we talked mostly about personal future plans, rather than district-related news. 

We also were given special mention at the end of the day for being “student journalists.”

Though it did provide me with experiences of what being a journalist is like, it seemed as if the opportunity was more of a “photo-op,” rather than for the benefit of student journalists.

Details regarding what we were going to write remain unclear. I wrote an article and sent it to Mrs. Yoshimoto-Towery, who claimed that she will show the article to Beutner, but I have yet to receive a response. 

I am still grateful for the experience, however.  

This experience has given me the rare opportunity to talk to people of considerable power, from local superintendents to various officers to the superintendent himself. I was also able to meet with famous people such as Greg Wells and former LA Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager. I was also able to hold a Grammy award with my two bare hands!

I’m grateful that I was able to travel to all corners of the district while talking with and learning the interesting stories of students all throughout the district. 

It was interesting to find out the range of opportunities available all throughout the district, but are not available at all schools. This, however, also shows a shortcoming on part of the district. Sure, our school has Promethean Boards but Crenshaw High has financial literacy classes.  

I have been part of school publications most of my high school years and beyond that; this experience, however, has shown me the extreme intricacies and diligence that comes with being a professional journalist.