Hesperia High School has a new principal and it's a familiar face: Vice-Principal of Student Activities Bob Schnebeck has been tapped for the job.

Schnebeck got the news late on June 9, after the Hesperia Unified School District school board came out of closed session. He replaces former principal Larry Porras, who has been named the principal of the Hesperia Unified School District's next comprehensive high school, Oak Hills High School, which will open in August 2009.

"I got a lot of inside encouragement," Schnebeck said. "Everybody knew Larry was going and people wanted someone from inside."

And he's been inside: Schnebeck has been at Hesperia High since 1990, and worked with Porras for 15 years.

"I've been on the [student activities] side for a long time and now I'm ready for a new adventure."

He'll get it: Schnebeck is taking over the top spot at a school that is expected to have 3,700 students during the 2008-2009 school year and approximately 150 teachers. Those numbers will drop once Oak Hills opens and school boundaries are redrawn, but during his first year in the top spot, Schnebeck will essentially be the chief administrator for a small town.

"We've got a great staff," he said. "It's a nice place and I'd like that to stay the same."

Of course, Schnebeck has been in education since he started off as a remedial math and science teacher in 1977, and he's got some ideas of things he'd like to try, now that he's in charge.

"I've worked with 11 different principals and I think I've learned something from every one," he said. "Larry's been a real people person, and that was a great lesson."

Although Schnebeck said he intends to keep all of Porras' successful initiatives, he also intends a few new ones of his own: "I'd like to focus on teachers, especially new teachers."

Once upon a time, new teachers worked as student teachers while acquiring their accreditation and had classroom experience before giving a class of their own. Today, some teachers come to work with little or no classroom experience and little mentoring. Porras organized roundtables for new teachers to discuss their challenges, and Schnebeck said he hopes to up the frequency of the group sessions.

Ultimately, everything done at Hesperia High needs to benefit students, he said.

"You're supporting education, and that's pretty simple to me."

Schnebeck said he liked working under Porras and hopes to build something comparable.

"I mostly wanted to be on a good team," he said. "Now I have a chance to be the in-charge guy and try and make that same kind of team."

He'll get his chance in a big way after the 2008-2009 school year, when Oak Hills High School staffs up and is likely to lure away some Hesperia High staff and teachers. Schnebeck said he and Porras have discussed how a similar transition worked when Sultana High School happened in the 1990s and said they intend to work together to make the process as painless and as positive as possible, for both those who leave for Oak Hills and those that remain at the newer, smaller Hesperia High.

"Schools are more than buildings, they're the people," he said. "Buildings are nice, but it's mostly going to be about the people."

"Bob is part of the culture at Hesperia High School, he really is," said Superintendent Mark McKinney. "He's been an innovator in a number of programs, and he really is part of the lifeblood of Hesperia High School. He's been in a leadership role the entire time he's been there, and now he's taking the leadership position."

School board president Robert Kirk worked with Schnebeck back when Kirk was a science teacher at Hesperia High School.

"He has just a wealth of experience. He's been innovative, in my mind, with some of the things he's done, like the 4.0 dinners" and the much-imitated Mr. Scorpion pageant, Kirk said. "I worked there with him, worked well with him, and have a lot of respect for him. ... I think he's going to do a great job there."

"I've got a lot to learn," Schnebeck said, "But that's part of the thrill."

"He's a Scorpion down to his socks," McKinney said. "I think it'll be a great transition."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.