Interview with Mr. Trocano: Head of Upper School


Lucy Jaffee, Content Editor

Mr. Thomas Trocano recently joined LJCDS as the new Head of Upper School this school year, and he’s been enthusiastically welcomed into our community. He kindly agreed to be interviewed amidst his various meetings, and we discussed his passion for education, vision for LJCDS, and inspirational life advice. Mr. Trocano’s genuine fulfillment brought to him by his job was evident throughout our short interview.

However, education was not always in the picture. As a high school student, Mr. Trocano wanted to either be a doctor or a professional football player, the former being slightly more attainable. He received a degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (a title that took me multiple tries to get correct) from Yale University. Reflecting upon the significance of his major on his life and world view, he said, “I love a challenging unfamiliar scenario where I have to apply the fundamental skills that I’ve learned,” whether this scenario be in the chemistry lab during his Yale days or in his new job at LJCDS. 

Although he initially wanted to be a doctor, Mr. Trocano soon discovered the medical field wasn’t for him. After pursuing a graduate degree in Biomedical Engineering for a year, he began working as a math teacher at a small private school in North Carolina—a job he described as the most formative aspect of his career. This u-turn in his career led him to “finding his destiny,” an experience he hopes everyone has at least once in their lives. The most important piece of advice he tries to impart to students is to find their destiny as fast as they can and that “it’s not the title of what you do, it’s what you feel everyday.” He hopes that everyone he interacts with finds a job they love, even on what may seem like the worst days. While he acknowledges that being a teacher is not easy work, he found his love of teaching motivating. “I saw the impact you could have on young people and what I perceived that meant for the future. I just knew that was where I belonged.” 

Mr. Trocano felt this same sense of belonging when interviewing to become the Head of Upper School at LJCDS last December. When meeting with members of our student body, he commented on how eloquent and honest they were when discussing LJCDS’s strengths, areas of improvement, and school-related topics they felt passionate about. He explained that encountering a group of students who “had the self-confidence and the presence to make that kind of an impression in front of an adult who is a stranger to them, it was really impressive.” While he was on campus and interacting with our students, LJCDS felt like family to him, despite being across the country from where he had previously lived. 

This family-like environment is one he will continue to foster in the Upper School. He admires that just like in one’s own family, people’s opinions may differ, but you can communicate through these differences, have a civil conversation about them, and ultimately support one another regardless. Having this “family within a family” dynamic at LJCDS is very important to him as a person and administrator. As his personal beliefs resonate with the core values widely taught at LJCDS (respect, dignity, etc.) he plans to support and implement these throughout his work. In the meantime, he said, “I need to learn who we are. Before I can make good decisions, they have to be informed decisions, and I can’t make informed decisions about where we should go, until I know where we are and who we are.” This learning process occurs through hearing and interacting with student voices, and Mr. Trocano strongly encourages everyone to introduce themselves and chat with him in order to fully support our family at La Jolla Country Day School. I would like to extend another thank you to Mr. Trocano for taking the time to share his personal insights with me.