Barron Park School principal to retire in June | News | Palo Alto Online |


Barron Park School principal to retire in June

Cathy Howard has led school since 1998 re-opening

Cathy Howard, principal of Barron Park Elementary School for the past 12 years, will retire June 30, the school district announced Thursday.

In 25 years with Palo Alto schools, Howard has worked as an instructional aide, a classroom teacher at Ohlone School and a district-wide curriculum resource teacher.

She was named to lead Barron Park in 1998 when the school was re-opened to accommodate enrollment growth.

Howard recently spearheaded College Bound, a pilot program at Barron Park offering extended school hours and days for extra academic instruction for fifth-graders considered "at risk." Preliminary results showed academic gains among participating students.

A graduate of Harvard University with an administrative credential from Santa Clara University, Howard lectured at Cornell University and taught high school in New Haven, Conn., before coming to Palo Alto.

"Cathy will be missed by all her colleagues, students and parents," Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.

"She has worked tirelessly on behalf of her students and will leave a legacy of caring for students and a passion for learning.

"Assistant Superintendent Scott Bowers will work closely with the Barron Park community to find an equally talented replacement for Cathy," he said.

Chris Kenrick

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Posted by Hopefully if will be for Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm

This is good news, hopefully the new principal will adopt a discipline program that works for real, so kids really learn to respect each other, and so bullying decreases. If parents are not careful to choose a principal who is not afraid to give consequences students who bully other students mentally y physically, nothing will change. Mental damage that occur from bullying does not heal, and children carry the wounds or scarfs for the rest of their lives. Please make sure you get a principal who cares about bullying. Step to respects does not work, otherwise there would be no bullying.

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

look at juana briones,it used to be at the same rank as barron park,since the last two principals took over,it made such impressive progress,now it ranks high in pa schools.

Like this comment
Posted by former barron park parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Sadly, she has been allowed to continue as the principal for years despite repeated complaints to the district office about the rampant, top-down bullying, poor education, favoritism, cronyism, retaliation etc. while the district turned a deaf ear to the problem. Parents who complained were not allowed to transfer and were hung out to dry by upper administration officials, and many have had to go to ridiculous lengths to get their children out of that place. Many families put their children in private school that they could ill afford just to get away.[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by barron park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm

School Board and next parent committee: Please do not make a mistake on the next principal.Ms. Howard created a a very unfortunate atmosphere that got ignored, despite some parents who tried to address the problems. I know Ms. Howard had great intentions, but she lacked leadership skills and personality that the position needed. Ms. Howard simply did not have what it takes to create a positive learning environment for all student. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by I agree
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Barron Park unfortunate atmosphere affected students, parents and even employees, many of them left because they could not stand her leadership. She was afraid to stand up for what it was right. The sad think is that she claimed to be working for parents and students of color, but when it came to chose, she was the first to discriminate. Two of our children, along with many others, applied to the college bound program, and only one my kids was accepted, the reason: the one who was rejected was a child with learning disabilities. Many others like my daughter were rejected too, they too had learning disabilities, and they were the ones who could had benefited the most. For these kids it was sad, as other kids were showing up that they were accepted, and for them it meant that they were going to college and the ones who were rejected were not. Hopefully next principal will change the rules and requirements to be accepted int he college bound, so everyone who applies gets accepted. It is too early for elementary kids to deal with rejection and discrimination at this time in life. And if you are not going to make changes, get rid of the program, few kids are getting benefits, but it is a the expenses of the ones who get rejected. The emotional damage that the rejected kids go through is greater than the benefits.

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Posted by I Agree
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by former barron park parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2011 at 7:12 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Paly Alum is a registered user.

Hopefully, PAUSD will select a good principal for Barron Park. From what I have heard, the school atmosphere is awful and nothing like what one would expect from a Palo Alto school.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by KAF
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

KAF is a registered user.

I have had three kids go through that school, all are well adjusted, none were teased. All consistently tested above grade level during Jr high and high school. I have received services for learning disabilities for my children, and thought we got first rate service. My kids best friends now, are friends they met at Barron Park. I think there was a positive, acceptng atmosphere there under Cathy. I think the posts here are unduly negative and mean.

Children learn what they see. I would never trash talk a school administrator or educator in a forum where my children could see it. If they have a problem with a teacher, I would seek to understand and seek the positive aspects of their interaction with that person. We do not, in life, get to only interact with those who have a compatible style or personality with ourselves. Learning to adjust is an important lesson.

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Posted by PAresident
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm

PAresident is a registered user.

I agree with KAF. Our kids went K-5 at BPES, had exceptional teachers and were happy to attend school there every single day for those 6 years.

Since Ms. Howard was the only principal during the years that our kids attend BPES, I can confidently say that she did an excellent job. Of course, no one is perfect; not our kids, not the teachers, not the principals and certainly, not us parents. We all make mistakes. It part of the life long learning process.

As a top notch educator, Catherine Howard will be sorely missed.

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Posted by Francoise Lang
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Francoise Lang is a registered user.

I am sorry to read that some of you had such bad experiences at Barron Park Elementary.

We are having the opposite. We have moved from oversea 2 years ago and felt very welcome at Barron Park. One of our children has special needs and Principal Cathy was very supportive of giving him the support he needed, leaving him in a main stream classroom.

They are now in 5th, 3rd and 1st grade and they all enjoy very much going to Barron Park school. My oldest describe Principal Cathy as a positive person, my second likes that she doesn't loose her temper and my 3rd doesn't hesitate to hug her when she sees her. Cathy is at the drop off every morning welcoming parents and children.

As a parent, involve in the PTA, I made great friends thru this school and appreciate all the work and energy Cathy has been putting into the school, for the children. I was able to meet with her any time I had requested it and she always met the need of my children.

I feel very much part of the Barron Park community as well as my children.

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