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Mr. Sean Boulton

2022-2023 School Year Message

Sailor Nation,


I hope the summer is treating everyone well and that you are soaking in the sun… and the downtime. As we approach Newport Harbor’s 93rd year, before the tyranny of the urgent takes over, I ask you to indulge me. I’d like to share a personal story that offers perspective on the challenges we face as a community.


My father was a young boy when World War II started. His earliest memories were of underground London during German air raids—one bombing siren after another. His biological father drank himself to death because of wartime experiences, and his stepfather was a Naval Officer during the war.


He endured some of the harshest trials any child might face, yet he went on to serve as a pilot in the Royal Air Force; he was based in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from 1955 to 1960. His service was just another series of challenges that are difficult for most of us today even to comprehend; he flew cargo to resupply the fading British Empire in an age without trustworthy weather reports, let alone GPS.


My father was proud of his British roots, and I grew up listening to his stories. His lived experiences were vast, he possessed a natural love of fellow humans, and the theme that emerged again and again in his stories was this: He embraced the bumps in his road, and he valued his hardships even more than his successes.


I was born in Hong Kong and I learned early on that there is a limitless, rich world out there; the only way to access and appreciate it is to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, expose yourself to the unfamiliar—and never to stop learning along the way. I was a very fortunate kid: By the time I reached high school, my father had taken me to many corners of the planet.  


On one of his business trips, we were strolling the streets of Berlin. I recall stumbling on an uneven sidewalk, catching myself, and continuing our conversation. My Dad stopped me and gestured to the ground behind me, “Look down, Sean.”


I did. A small bronze square etched with names, dates, and words I could not read was embedded in the stonework of the walkway.


The Germans have a word for these: Stolpersteine. “The stones we stumble upon.”


There were stumbling stones all around us as we walked; once I recognized one of them, they all become very obvious. Indeed, if you walk around the streets of most German cities enough (and many other European ones, for that matter) you will inevitably stumble upon the bronze markers as you go about your day.


I learned that the date on the Stolperstein refers to when a person (or family) was forced from the nearby home. The destinations and fates of those commemorated are also inscribed. No German walking through a German city can avoid remembering. And the effect is a constant reminder of our shared humanity.


The stumbling stones are an elegant answer to the question of what a society can do about its historic sins. Never forget—but remember without wallowing in shame or blaming. Acknowledge the wrong—and commit to doing better. Listen to the anguished—and learn from our mistakes.


We’ve heard it from coaches, teachers, mentors, experts, and everyone between: Failures are inevitable. Success and happiness depend on how you deal with those failures. If you learn from them and grow stronger, you’re on the right track.


This is true for individuals, such as the student who struggled to keep up during distance learning. It’s true for Germany as it copes with the legacy of the Holocaust. It’s true for our school, which is a human institution. It’s true for California. It’s true for America.


As George W. Bush observed, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”


We don’t need Stolperstein to remind us of the many failed responses to the pandemic, but we at NHHS have learned and adapted over these last three years.  Recall, despite the challenges of the return to campus a year ago, there were far more victories than anyone could have expected. Now , we are entering the fall of 2022 with a full head of steam for the first time in three years. I’m very excited about what’s to come!


Newport Harbor High School is a special place.


As I begin my tenth year, I reflect on what an honor it is to serve this community. For the first time in a long time, I sense that our halls and classrooms will explode with energy and life on August 22 and that the Sailor Spirit and PRIDE that fills our campus each day will buoy us through the entire year.


Enjoy these last three weeks of the summer. Read a book (or two). Wander aimlessly with a friend. Enjoy the beach. Tell someone you care about them. Eat ice cream on the boardwalk. Watch the sunrise. See you in a couple of weeks for the 93rd school year at Newport Harbor High School.  


And, as always… GO SAILORS!



Sean Boulton 






Administration: Principal


Phone: (949) 515-6301



Administrative Responsibilities:

  • Locally Controlled Accountability Plan (LCAP) 
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Go LA Dodgers!
Newport Harbor in 1951
Educational Philosophy

My educational philosophy centers on student learning, and I am completely committed to the concept that every student can learn and that teachers become the pathway for those educational experiences. It is my belief that educational leaders are the energy behind excellent teaching through which students discover and internalize the understanding and skills they need for a productive, meaningful and satisfying life within our global society. Principals must promote teaching that challenges students to reach beyond merely knowing and understanding the course material. Students should be encouraged to analyze information, critically discuss ideas, find ways to apply their learning in real life situations, define concepts within an international frame of reference, and ultimately use their intellectual growth to create and evaluate new forms and perspectives. School should exist to spark the imagination of every student; great high schools have leaders that value all students and realize that students learn differently, and that every student is not going to college. We must provide different pathways for success so our high school students have vocational goals in addition to college goals, and reinstall value in technical jobs that require complex skills.  I believe in an inclusive educational community that embraces a wide range of diversity, and that guidance interventions can make a difference to reinforce a students' focus for success. Further, the administration of a comprehensive high school must hold students accountable for their social behavior, and set academic expectations high if our students are to become productive scholars on our high school campuses. The best high schools are magical for students and change their lives, and make them lifelong learners. I feel that my personal and professional experiences have prepared me well for the public high school principalship, and guidance from my mentors have shaped my educational philosophy. One of the greatest challenges in our multilingual, multicultural, and complex global society is preparing our youth for the future. It is my goal that Newport Harbor High School just doesn't educate our students well, but we also teach them to how to positively reshape the world in unimaginable ways. 


Sean Boulton first earned a bachelor's degree in History from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri and taught in the Springfield Unified School District for two years.

After completing his first master's degree in English Education--also from Drury--he returned to Southern California in 1998 to teach English in the Los Angeles Unified School District at Charles Maclay Middle School in Pacoima.

After a year there, it was on to teach English at Ensign Middle School.  While there, he earned his second master's degree in Administration from Cal State Fullerton.

Sean Boulton's first administration position was at Estancia High School where he served as an assistant principal.
In 2006 he moved on to Laguna Hills High School in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District where he served as an assistant principal for two years.

He was subsequently named principal of Laguna Hills High, a position he held for the next 5 years.
After many wonderful years at the "Home of the Hawks" in Laguna Hills, it was back to Newport-Mesa Unified and Newport Harbor High School!

Sean is currently entering his tenth year as Principal of Newport Harbor during the 2022-2023 school year-Dr. Boulton earned his Education Doctorate Degree from Grand Canyon University April of 2017.   Go Sailors!