Hazelwood school Principal teams up with two others to write book

See what the head of Cherry Park Elementary School has been doing during the pandemic to help other school principals better serve their students …

Heading into work at her Hazelwood neighborhood school in outer East Portland is Cherry Park Elementary School is author, Principal Kate Barker.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

After spending three decades as an educator in the David Douglas School District (DDSD), Cherry Park Elementary’s Principal Kate Barker says she’s learned quite a bit about educational professional development.

So much so, she set out to write a book on the topic – with two others, Kourtney Ferrua, Oregon Principal of the Year and Curriculum Director in the McMinnville school district – and Rachael George, Principal at Sandy Grade School in Sandy. The book is out now, and is called Principaled: Navigating the Leadership Learning Curve.

“We wanted to write an authentic book about being an educational leader,” Barker tells East Portland News.

Providing leadership to her staff every day at her school, here’s Principal Barker.

Life long DDSD educator
Asked about the experiences she’s drawn upon to produce this book, Barker replied, “This is my 30th year in the David Douglas School District – having started as a teacher, right here, at Cherry Park Elementary, in 1991.

“I left Cherry Park, and was at the DDSD office in a curriculum role – and then was Principal at two other David Douglas Schools, before coming back as the Principal at Cherry Park eleven years ago. So, it is my family!”

What led Barker and her partners to write this book was that, “We want school leaders to know they are not alone. Principals and other school leaders are critical to a school’s success – however, we usually rarely discuss how challenging this can be, and how to do it well.”

Three professional educators share their experiences
She, Ferrua, and George met through Oregon Coalition of School Administrators organization. “Although we’re from three very different communities, we shared the value of high expectations for teaching and learning with a deep love and appreciation of educators, students and families,” explains Barker.

“We all work with communities that traditionally may underperform, due to economic challenges; yet, we all strongly believe in the power of relationships and the commitment to finding what works for every student to make growth.

“This book vulnerably tells our stories,” continues Barker. “We share our ‘epic fails’; and, how we used common strategies to help raise our communities to success. We share the lessons we have learned over the course of our careers, about how to simultaneously have high expectations for student success while fostering a supportive and vibrant school culture.

“The book is intended to be very interactive and hopefully, by the time readers finish it, it will have tattered corners, sticky notes on pages, notes in the margins, and responses to the invitation to implement at the end of each of the chapters,” Barker smiles.

People from all walks of life can benefit from their book, Kate Barker believes.

Lessons for everyday life
How this relates, today, to her school, Barker says, “Is that we can all get lost in the enormity of our circumstances right now, with ‘everything being new’ – from how we are teaching and learning, to how we are interacting with people, to how we are shopping or supporting our loved ones – which can be exhausting and overwhelming.”

A suggestion Barker offers, when someone feels pulled in “100 different directions”, is to focus on just one or two things. “At Cherry Park, Our number one goal is engagement –And that clarity of purpose helps us, not only with accelerating learning, but with overall productivity and connectivity.”

What she feels are the most emotionally satisfying parts of creating this book is “sharing my stories and strategies, hopefully to help a Principal or any leader, in or out of education, to give and receive feedback; to navigate difficult conversations; to lead from a strength-based mindset; and, to lead with purpose and love.”

Interested? Principaled: Navigating the Leadership Learning Curve can be purchased online at Amazon: CLICK HERE.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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