Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto High School principal resigns

Original post made on Jun 18, 2013

Palo Alto High School Principal Phil Winston Monday announced he has resigned from the job he's held for the past three years, saying he needs to guard his health.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 8:55 AM

Comments (40)

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

Very sad news indeed. Best wishes to Phil, but it is a shame to see such a young man with great potential for our kids no longer at the helm.

It is a good decision for Phil and his family, but he has spent so much time (extra hours, I mean) and energy at Paly that I can understand his decision.

He will be an asset to any classroom in which he teaches - hope he does remain in the district.


Posted by Another Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:32 am

A great loss for Paly. Phil is a one-of-a-kind administrator, respected, appreciated and genuinely well-liked by parents and students. His decisions always put the students' well being first. We had such great confidence in him, and that was a gift to the entire Paly community.
I wish nothing but the best for Phil and his family going forward, and also hope that he is able to continue to share his considerable talents with PAUSD.






Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:33 am

Phil's just a great guy; thank you, Phil, so much for your hard work over the past 3 years!


Posted by Jeanie Smith, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

Sad news for Paly, but I applaud Phil's decision to keep his priorities straight and put career second to health and family. What a great role model for students, as always!

Phil has always garnered respect and admiration from his colleagues, myself included-- I do hope he's able to stay in the District in any capacity-- we need great educators like him.


Posted by Tony Putulin, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:43 am

The Paly community has just lost an iconic figure on campus. It's a sad day for the entire Palo Alto School District. Phil, you are the best at what you do. I have seen you in action. I must say I am truly amazed. Paly will never be the same without you. You certainly have touched my daughter's life more than you will ever know. I apologize for oftentimes teasing you about you're always wearing a green tie. But you know, that says a lot about you. I fully support your decision. I admire you for setting your priorities straight. Enjoy your much needed vacation with your family. I will see you in the Fall.


Posted by Unfair, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

Not the good ones, how come the bad guys get to stay? life is unfair. Villalobos, Skelly, Holly Wade, Huertas, Gallagher and young are the ones who should leave not. I have faith that one of these times well get the news that they too are leaving after a long time of denying students the appropriate services they need to succeeede academically and emotionally.


Posted by DESKS???, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:54 am


Palo Alto High School Updating its Buildings for MORE Administrative Offices?


Posted by Penny, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

I have been fortunate to work as a volunteer with Phil at Gunn and Paly. He is a talented and student-centered admnistrator. I hope he will stay with PAUSD as a teacher. His presence enriches us.

Phil, I wish you improved health and all the very best.


Posted by Paula Sandas, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

We greatly appreciated Phil Winston's leadership, his dynamic impact and his true commitment to students. Our recent Paly grad both respected and liked Mr. Winston, which was a reflection of Phil's values. He is a 21st Century leader whose influence will continue to be felt as he takes on a new teaching role in PAUSD.
Here's to Mr. Winston's continued good health!


Posted by Big Loss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2013 at 10:10 am

Sad to see Phil go. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Dennis Harvey, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2013 at 10:11 am

Our two boys attended and graduated from Paly, and our youngest son graduated in the class of 2013 under Phil's leadership. And we all noted big improvements at Paly that must be a reflection of Phil's genuine concern, balanced approach, and focus on the education, happiness, and welfare of our students. Thank you for all of your service to our children. We are delighted to hear that he is staying on the Paly faculty!


Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 10:11 am

We received the message last night around 11PM and I am still in shock. Being the principal of such a high profile school with outspoken parents is no easy feat. Mr. Winston was the best principal we could ask for. He respects and believes in everyone. He was approachable, visible, hard-working, professional, open-minded, productive, answered EVERY email within 24 hours, popular with students and parents, and kept Paly "student-centered", as was his goal. He improved the school tremendously. Amazingly, he would follow-up on emails: "How is (insert name) doing? Did it all work out?" Phil Winston is basically irreplaceable.


Posted by anon, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 10:15 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Well-wisher, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 10:27 am

Best wishes to Mr Winston who is such a tremendous human being. He is so dedicated to students and earned their respect rather than expected it due to his position. He helped my son get thru tough times in high school. He was missed when he left Gunn and went to Paly but glad he will stay in Palo Alto. To your health, Mr Winston!


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 18, 2013 at 10:36 am

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate post:

This is a real loss. Phil was a terrific principal. I hope the search committee spends time finding someone equally good.
by Paly Parent Jun 18, 2013 at 9:06 am


Posted by Marie, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 11:05 am

This makes me sad. Paly will miss Phil. What a breath of fresh air compared to the previous principal.

@ DESKS?: they are remodeling/updating the Tower Building...which is in desperate need of repair (as the same for Haymarket)...part of the planned bond program. No expansion.

@ Big Loss: um, Skelly hired Phil for Paly...

@ Marie: really? Given Phil's record at Paly, one would have to ask if it wasn't the other way around.


Posted by PAUSD teacher, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 11:06 am

Glad to see him go. Sorry about his health if that is true.


Posted by paly alum, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2013 at 11:07 am

paly alum is a registered user.

Superintendent Skelly just sent us a newsletter but there is no mention of Winston's resignation. More incompetence from our figurehead.


Posted by Winning, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 11:12 am

PALO ALTO STUDENTS: This man has just given you a prime life lesson through example.

Your health and family are ALWAYS more important than any sort of achievement or job you may think is important.
Remember, the happy people win in the end, not the one's with the most toys or biggest paychecks, as erroneously thought in the old days.


Posted by Kelly, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 11:12 am

I wish the Palo Alto Online staff would stop deleting the accurate comments, leaving only positive comments to glorify this man. He may have fooled the Palo Alto community with his charming facade, but there are plenty of underprivileged students and who will benefit greatly from his departure.


Posted by Frances Davies, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 18, 2013 at 11:18 am

I only personally talked with Phil once at 3:30 in the morning after prom when he alone made sure that my kids were picked up safely after their bus had broken down. Probably not good for his work-life-health balance sheet but it showed me how deeply he cared for the students. I hope his replacement carries on the tradition.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 11:48 am


The post from a PAUSD teacher saying "glad to see him go" confirms my felling that
a "student centered" admin does not make teachers happy. I'm sure good teachers liked him, but the bad ones are happy to see him go.

Whoever the new Principal is will have big shoes to fill, and student centeredness should be a criteria.

My concern is that Skelly will hire a yes person for Paly, type that only knows to play defense, like he and the board do, bad teachers will be happy about that.



Posted by Olivier, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Graduating Student, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Anybody who says that Winston is student oriented clearly was not a student. He is only concerned with the high achieving students; all other students did not matter to him. Talking to him was impossible; he was very strange and hard to understand. He was very concerned with him own image, and you could feel his ego coming at you from a mile away. The other administrators at least can sympathize with students, and can help them get through tough times in their lives. Paly is a great school; my years there were the best of my life. I hope that the new principal is more laid back in his attitude and allows students to find their own way in life.


Posted by Truedy, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Phil Winston is a great principal. I've had children at Paly since 2005, and since Mr. Winston has become principal, the environment has become much more student-friendly (Sorry, Graduating Student, but this is true!). I'm very sorry to see him leave the position.

I hope the "PAUSD Teacher" is not a real teacher at Paly, what a horrible thing to say.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Sad to hear that Phil Winston will leave Paly, but fully understand his decision and I truly wish him well. During his tenure as principal, Phil touched many in the community.

It pains me to read comments from those who seem to latch onto any chance to say something negative. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Still sad and hope his replacement comes from within PAUSD rather than an outsider as outsiders have not done well here. Perhaps Chuck Merritt can be persuaded to leave El Carmelo and return to Paly to take on the role. His experience as a vice principal and his knowledge of the school would make him an ideal candidate.


Posted by Chris Gaither, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Have to take care of yourself, as no one else will. Unfortunate reason to have to make this decision, but good choice to make time to enjoy your time here on this earth with the people you enjoy and love. It's good to have time to recognize the value of time, and each day we are given.

Good luck, and long life to you Phil!


Posted by Linda Allen, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I hate to see this. Phil is an amazing person,Principal and role model. Please, Please take care of yourself.

You are the best!
Linda, Stephanie and Larry


Posted by Umm, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm

"My concern is that Skelly will hire a yes person for Paly, type that only knows to play defense, like he and the board do, bad teachers will be happy about that."

Umm, didn't Dr. Skelly appoint Mr. Winston?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm

This is who you want...

Web Link


Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I absolutely think that Katya Villalobos should be the next Paly principal. She can bring Gunn's wonderful counseling system to Paly, dismantle TA, and you can live our dream. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by James Lynn, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Annie, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm

I'm so sorry to hear Phil is leaving. He had such a positive impact at Paly. Loved by parents and students alike. I can understand why some teachers might have resented him. But I was very happy to see some long-overdue retirements while Phil was principal. He really put the kids first.

Good luck to you, Phil, and please take care of yourself.


Posted by Big Loss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by former Gunn parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Phil did a great job at Gunn and it's no surprise the Paly community appreciated his talents too. But being a secondary principal in PAUSD is a FULL time job.

@Unfair - Sometimes the good ones leave because our district wears them out! Maybe the ones who stay are trying to have a work-life balance, and can't satisfy others all the time. Maybe we should give them a break.


Posted by Thank you, Mr. Winston, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm

It's a difficult position to be a Palo Alto high school principal. Intellectual snipers on forums awaiting every move. Winston served us well and we were fortunate to have a principal who cared about our students. His door was always open to parents and students. There was no arrogance or passive-aggressiveness with him. Our entire family is grateful for his stay and wish him well.


Posted by Mimits, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 19, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Mimits is a registered user.

I was very sad to hear that Phil Winston has resigned. I had the privilege of working closely with him for a couple of years when I co-led the parent education programs at Paly. He was the epitome of a leader to me - a fantastic principal who cared deeply about our kids and the community, and the teachers. I was amazed at how good he was, and how much he cared. He always looked deeply at issues and challenges, he was incredibly supportive and involved in making sure we were doing the right thing for students, their families, the school and the community, and not just for the short term... he was in it for the long term results. He had very high standards, and inspired others to excel as well. I'm just so sad for Paly; this is a great loss.

Phil, I wish you the very best. We were so lucky to have you during the time we did, and you will be missed. I just hope you stay in the Palo Alto district as a teacher, and that you are healthy and happy. Be well.

Maureen Simons


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

To post your comment, please click here to login

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

Handmade truffle shop now open in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 2,526 views

Why is doing nothing so difficult?
By Sally Torbey | 7 comments | 1,135 views

Breastfeeding Tips
By Jessica T | 6 comments | 1,064 views

Who Says Kids Donít Eat Vegetables?
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 887 views

Call it a novel: Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III
By Nick Taylor | 1 comment | 273 views