Principals named for two schools | April 25, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Schools - April 25, 2012

Principals named for two schools

by Renee Batti

Two new principals have been named to head Menlo Park City School District schools: Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park and Encinal School in Atherton.

Sharon A. Burns, principal of a Mountain View elementary school of 582 students, will be Encinal's new principal; and Erik A. Burmeister, principal of an 850-student San Jose middle school, will take over the Hillview post, pending school board approval.

Superintendent Maurice Ghysels of the Menlo Park City School District named the two administrators last week. The school board is expected to approve the appointments on May 8.

Encinal School

Ms. Burns has headed Frank L. Huff Elementary School for the last four years. During that time, she has "overseen the training and certification of all teachers in Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), while at the same time achieving a 30-point API (Academic Performance Index) increase for Latino student (and an 11-point overall increase for the school ...)," Mr. Ghysels said in a written statement announcing the appointment.

Mr. Ghysels and Ms. Burns have worked together before, when he served as superintendent of the Mountain View Whisman School District until he resigned that post in 2010.

She was "put forward as a candidate for the Encinal principal position by an outside search firm and was identified by our district interviewing panel as a finalist for the job," he said.

Before she became principal of Huff, Ms. Burns "spent 2005-2008 educating and coaching new teachers in the Mountain View Whisman School District," Mr. Ghysels said.

"She was one of the inaugural graduates of the Leadership Academy we established in the district when I was superintendent, which was designed to nurture and groom high-performing teachers for leadership positions."

The district sent out Ms. Burns' written responses to questions about various aspects of her past work and future plans at Encinal. Among her comments: "I believe parents make vital contributions, both academic and non-academic, toward creating the overall culture of a school. A true partnership with parents is required to ensure that students get the best education possible."

She said she believes in being "as accessible as possible" to parents while still addressing the demands she faces as principal.

Ms. Burns will replace Allison Liner as principal of the 772-student school in Atherton. Ms. Liner will leave her post at the end of the school year to become the district's chief learning officer.

Hillview Middle School

Mr. Burmeister was recently named California Middle Grades Principal of the Year 2012. He has been principal of Union Middle School in the Union School District since July 2007, and was the school's assistant principal for two years before that.

In a written statement announcing the appointment late last week, Superintendent Ghysels said: "The panels of administrators, teachers and parents who interviewed Erik during our rigorous hiring process were consistently impressed by his commitment to innovation in education, as well as his understanding and appreciation of middle school students and their needs."

As Union School principal, Mr. Burmeister "has raised the school's API score by 102 points, and almost completely closed the achievement gap between white and Asian and Hispanic students," Mr. Ghysels said. "In 2001, for the first time in the school's history, every eighth-grade student met Union's requirements for graduation."

In addition, he said, no student is achieving at below-basic level, and more advanced students have been achieving at higher levels than in the past.

Mr. Burmeister's performance apparently has been attracting attention statewide. Mr. Ghysels said that more than 400 teachers, superintendents and board members from all over California have visited Union School over the past three years "to witness first-hand how Erik's team has implemented a program of meaningful learning and achievement for all students."

In his responses to a series of questions posed by the district and made available online, Mr. Burmeister commented on his goals as Hillview principal, saying he hopes that, under his leadership, the middle school "will reflect the unique developmental, social and academic needs of the young teenager.

"Both in our teaching methods and the broader culture of the school, we need to take positive risks, explore new frontiers, harness the natural energy of the teenager into amazing academic and social learning opportunities."

Mr. Burmeister will replace Mike Melton, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

Go to to read Ms. Burns' responses to questions from the district.

Go to for Mr. Burmeister's responses.


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