Meet Dublin High School’s Incoming Principal Maureen Byrne
DUBLIN, CA–With the retirement of Dublin High School Principal Carol Shimizu comes a changing of the guard – from within the current DHS administration. Maureen Byrne, who has served as Assistant Principal at Dublin High School since 2004, was recently named Principal. Most recently, she oversaw the implementation of the College and Career Readiness program, including the addition of the “Gael Period”, the Freshman Seminar curriculum, the Freshman Mentoring Program and the “The Hub”, which offers intervention and tutoring programs. In addition, she has served as the administrator for Special Education, Mathematics, World Language and Counseling the Bio-Medical academy, as well as the site’s testing coordinator. Byrne has a 24-year career in education, beginning as a Resource Specialist, working at the high school and middle school levels in Newark and Ventura school districts. Byrne earned her Masters’ in Education from UC Santa Barbara.
OneDublin.org recently sat down with Maureen to learn more about her plans for Dublin High School:
OneDublin.org: How would you describe Dublin High School to a family considering moving to Dublin?
Maureen Byrne: “It’s an amazing high school and is part of a great community. We have strong school spirit, passionate teachers, academic rigor and many choices for our students. What’s great about Dublin is that we’ve managed to maintain a small school feel even as we’ve grown.”
OneDublin.org: Being a high school principal is one of the toughest jobs because you are ultimately responsible for teenagers, and parents are passionate about their kids. What inspired you to accept this challenge?
Byrne: “All but 5 of my 25 years in education has been at the high school level. I taught for seven years in a high school, and spent five years in a middle school. I love high school students – I get to see them as freshmen and watch them grow and mature before they head out into the world. That process is wonderful to witness, their humor and thought processes are amazing. Watching a high school student go through that four year process is inspiring and keeps me feeling young!”
OneDublin.org: Many things at Dublin High are working well; what are the key areas for improvement that you are going to focus on?
Byrne: “Managing growth at Dublin High School is a key priority. In the twelve years I’ve been at Dublin High we’ve doubled in size and we’re forecasted to double in size again in the next few years. A key priority of mine is how to keep and build on this amazing culture we’ve created: a small town feel, a sense of community and intimacy. I also want to continue developing processes, working with our PLC (Professional Learning Community) teams, to ensure consistency, so that our students get the same quality of instruction in every course.”
OneDublin.org: You benefit from already knowing the staff, students and members of the community; how are you going to take advantage of that head start going into the 2016-17 school year?
Byrne: “I already have a sense of what needs to be our next steps. For example, I’m already working with our teachers for a proposal regarding the schedule next year, and I’m talking with teachers about how to further the PLC initiative. Because I know the staff I feel I’m continuing a conversation, not starting a new conversation.”
OneDublin.org: It’s no secret that rapid growth in Dublin schools, including Dublin High School, has caused challenges. What will be your approach to managing Dublin High through this period of growth?
Byrne: “I need to ensure that our staff stays connected to the kids and to the community. A lot of the decisions regarding growth are not made at our level, so I want to focus on guiding our staff, our students – both current and incoming, and the parent community to successful outcomes. While I’m involved in longer term growth discussions, I ultimately need to focus on how growth is impacting Dublin High School right now.”
OneDublin.org: There has also been a debate about balancing academic excellence and extracurriculars with student wellness and stress management. What is your philosophy when approaching a student’s whole school day?
Byrne: “Part of why I was advocating so hard for the Gael Period is because it forces kids to take a break during the day. It’s our job to help students make the best use of that time. While we have been successful so far with students taking a break or getting a jump on homework, in my opinion there is so much more potential. It’s our job to help kids find balance and to educate the community about the importance of looking at the whole child. We are a part of a community with very high academic expectations, and I while I love that we need to be focused not just on what will help our students get to college but to succeed in the world beyond college. I feel that preparing students for college isn’t enough – we need to prepare our students to be well-balanced, happy and fulfilled human beings.”
OneDublin.org: What makes you most proud to be a Gael, and to invest the hours expected both during and outside of the school day?
Byrne: “The reason I accepted the challenge of becoming principal of Dublin High School is that I love this community, and I love this school. I have young children – a first grader and a second grader – and the changes we’ve made in recent years have made Dublin High the place I want to send my kids for high school. When I see our kids on campus and around our community I’m proud – they are so nice, have such good hearts, are articulate, mature and delightful. That’s what makes me proud to be a Gael.”
OneDublin.org: And just for fun, what is the best book you’ve read in the last year and why?
Byrne: “‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry was an intriguing story about family. Highly recommended!”