7th Grade Learning Director
Hello, my name is Kester Bantin. I joined Soledad Unified School District on August 2nd 2016, having moved to California from the United Kingdom literally the day before. I feel extraordinarily privileged to be working at Main Street Middle School, with students who are working hard to fulfill their dreams and staff who are dedicated and driven to realize our children’s aspirations.
I was born in London, England, a diverse city of 8 million people, where over seventy languages are spoken regularly. When I attended Warwick University to study English & American Literature in 1990-93, I was impressed by the grandeur of the surroundings and the intellectual challenges that were presented. I was also surprised by the lack of diversity among my fellow students. The ethnic and cultural mix to which I was accustomed was not reflected in the student population. It was this sense of injustice, that people of all backgrounds were not accessing higher education, which brought me into teaching.
Doing what I can to enhance social justice, to improve the lives of the young people with whom I work through education, is my main driver. I studied for the UK equivalent of a teaching credential at the Institute of Education, University of London in 1994-95, with a focus on social justice. I attained an MA in Philosophy of Education at the same university in 2008, and in 2011 was awarded a National Professional Qualification in Headship from the UK Department of Education. In 2016, I was awarded an MBA in Education Leadership (International) from University College London.
My career history is varied and has been immensely rewarding. I taught English and Media Studies in Whitechapel for six years, before becoming a Special Education Teacher in West Ham for a further two years. Then I moved into district and site administration. I have been an Assistant Principal in a high school, a Boys’ Achievement Consultant for a school district of over 22,000 students, a School Improvement Officer for five high schools, a Vice Principal in a London high school, and an Associate Headteacher in a continuation school. I have also held strategic responsibilities across a county, ensuring good quality educational provision for over 500 foster youth.
I’m also exceptionally lucky in my personal life. I have a wonderful wife, Jess, and two fantastic sons, Marlow and Felix. I have close friendships which have endured for over 25 years, and parents who have shown they care throughout my life. With my wife and children, we have laid down roots in California and look forward to growing together as a family in the sunshine.
These experiences inform my approach to educational leadership in Main Street Middle School. I have benefited enormously from the discipline, rigor and intellectual curiosity that my work and own education has instilled in me. I have a supportive and loving family, which makes me confident and inspires me to achieve more. I am acutely aware of how fortunate I am. I have a moral obligation to work with and for others to ensure the young people of Soledad enjoy similar opportunities and outcomes. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.