Principal: 'I was a bratty teen' | August 8, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Schools - August 8, 2012

Principal: 'I was a bratty teen'

by Dave Boyce

If students with attitudes at Woodside High School try to claim that Diane Burbank, the new principal, doesn't understand them, that may not wash.

"I was one of those bratty teenagers," Ms. Burbank said in an interview with the Almanac. She wanted to graduate as a junior so she could enter college and get going on a career in education, but her parents wouldn't agree to it so she spent her senior year in a snit. "I was very angry," she said.

Ms. Burbank comes to Woodside and the Sequoia Union High School District from four years as principal of Prospect High School in Saratoga. A Saratoga address may sound exclusive, but the school's demographics are about what they are at Woodside: Hispanic and white students evenly share about two-thirds of the student population.

Before her time at Prospect High, Ms. Burbank spent five years as principal of Aptos High School in Aptos in Santa Cruz County. Prior to that, she worked at Cupertino High School, Gunn High School and JLS Middle School in Palo Alto, and Newark Junior High School in Newark.

The Sequoia district advertised statewide and received about 30 applicants, Superintendent Jim Lianides said. A team of teachers, administrators, staff and parents interviewed eight candidates,.

"Diane Burbank emerged as the strongest candidate and best fit for Woodside High School as a result of this process," Mr. Lianides said.

Why did she pick Woodside? It's larger than Prospect by about 500 kids, decisions are discussed among parents, teachers and administrators in the Shared-Decision-Making Council, it's a high-school-only district, and there are "beautiful" facilities, Ms. Burbank said. "I thought that it was really interesting."

Woodside's recent re-accreditation in March also figured in her decision, she said. The school's action plan lays out two priorities:

• Close the academic achievement gap by emphasizing literacy skills.

• Build a spirited school community through the principles of a well-established program at Woodside that, among other things, builds student confidence, creates a sense of belonging and accomplishment, and fosters a spirit of adventure.

The action plan is "a really clear mandate for me as a leader," Ms. Burbank said.


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