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Bird Rock principal heading to The Bishop’s School

Bird Rock Elementary School Principal Carol Barry announced Friday that she has accepted a position as head of The Bishop’s School Middle School.

She told parents and staff about the new position, which she’ll assume in July, in an e-mail. She replaces Gayle Williams, who died in September of medical complications due to the transplant. The school added its sixth-grade class in the fall to complete its three-year Middle School program.

“I love this school,” Barry said about the school where she started work just before the current school year. She has been with the San Diego Unified School District for 27 years, lives in La Jolla and has three children who attended Bird Rock elementary.

Parent Lisa Bonebrake, who was on the committee that helped select Barry, said she knew it was a struggle for Barry, who “always put the students first,” to decide to leave after only a year at Bird Rock.

“But how could you pass that up,” she added, noting that “across the board, parents have been happy with how quickly she’s made important changes.”

Fifth grade teacher Ginny LaRowe, wrote in an e-mail, “We, the students, teachers, and families have been blessed to have Mrs. Carol Barry here this school year ... to work with, learn from, and grow with ...

“We yearned to keep her here, at Bird Rock Elementary School, much longer,” she added. “However we wish her (and the students, and teachers, and families of) Bishop’s nothing but the very best.”

On Friday, Bishop’s Head of School Aimeclaire Roche wrote to parents: “I am thrilled that Carol Barry has agreed to join the Bishop’s Community as our new Middle School Head. Our faculty search committee, as well as the parents who met with candidates during our search process, unanimously chose Ms. Barry to lead our middle school program because of her belief in collaborative practice, her expertise in teaching and learning, and her calm and graciously inviting professionalism.”

In an interview Friday, Barry said the new post was “not something I was looking at,” explaining that someone at the school called her about applying. At first, she didn’t, but when she got a second call, she followed up.

She said she was attracted to the post when she learned more about it because she likes being involved in building schools. She was involved in the creation of Innovation Middle School and until August had been an assistant superintendent and chief elementary school improvement officer.

“I was impressed with the head master and am really intrigued,” Barry said. “It’s a great school, a great opportunity and I really like that age level.”

Acknowledging that she had a “great run” with the city’s school district,” she said the Bishop’s job is “more about a different challenge ... Opportunities like that don’t come around that often.”

Parent Lorri Sabban, who has two students at Bird Rock, wrote in an e-mail that losing Barry is a “huge disappointment ... She exemplified strong and effective leadership from the get-go.”

She joked that her younger son, Nate, “was so impressed with her wall-ball skills (in heels no less.) Those heels will be hard to fill.”

Bonebrake, who for two years was on the Parents’ Committee and now is an adviser to the group as well as an elected member of the school’s governance team, said it’s helpful for parents to know now that Barry is leaving, rather than being caught off guard at the end of the school year.

She said parents and teachers would again have input in the district’s selection process and now will have an added element to consider: “We will have to choose a person willing to work with the other principals in the cluster concept.”

Parents representing the five La Jolla schools recently launched an effort to form an organization that would provide a unified voice for the local schools as well as to find ways to share resources and ideas. Bird Rock teachers recently voted unanimously in favor of the concept and other schools faculty will be asked to show their support as well, Bonebrake noted. Barry and the other four La Jolla principals have also backed the idea.