Meet Two AUSD Principals
Katherine Crawford and Kevin Baker take on new roles in Alameda schools.
Katherine Crawford is one of 16 full-time AUSD principals. She's at Bay Farm School this year.
Photo by Lance Yamamoto
Katherine Crawford has been working with the Alameda Unified School District in various capacities since 1991, and Kevin Baker for over five years, but neither was prepared for the reception they’d receive as the new principals of Bay Farm School and Haight Elementary School.
“The Haight community has really knocked my socks off with their warm welcome and encouragement as I take on this role. I’ve never felt anything quite like it,” said Baker, a former assistant principal at Lincoln Middle School.
Crawford, a veteran AUSD teacher, had similar words about Bay Farm School. “I’m super excited because the teachers and community have all been great, welcoming me and sending me messages,” she said. “I didn’t know principals got that much attention when selected.”
In addition to teaching at Otis, Chipman, and Encinal Junior Jets, Crawford has worked as a teacher content coach, teacher leader, reform coordinator, and STEAM program developer at Wood, and chair of the California Department of Education’s Curriculum Commission, among other roles.
“I have been teaching for a long time, and have spent over 25 years working on behalf of students in Alameda Unified, always asking,” Crawford said, “how can we make the overall system better and more engaging for kids?”
She found it critical to return to the classroom as a teacher after getting her administrative credential to see how decision-making by administration affects day-to-day classroom goings-on.
Crawford said all of these experiences have helped her identify how to make an overall system better and more engaging for kids, how to be an early adopter of new initiatives, and how to better identify a school’s strengths, values, and mission while bringing teachers, parents, and the community together.
Crawford spent time at Bay Farm working as a math coach for fourth- and fifth-graders and got to know the school’s collaborative energy and positive dynamics between families and staff. Crawford’s mother had dedicated her last year of teaching at Bay Farm School. The school’s green initiative resonated with Crawford’s personal values about teaching students to live in a sustainable manner and make choices as consumers.
“Bay Farm was a perfect coming together. It seemed like a school where there would be synergy with me and the staff ... Their mission and my personal teacher philosophy seemed to align. I was very excited to apply for Bay Farm and then to get the job,” Crawford said.
On the job, Crawford said she plans to focus on creating a caring, inclusive climate where all students feel seen and supporting faculty and staff to embrace their potential as leaders in the school community while advocating for them and aligning resources and time so that they can do their work. She also said she intends to be the face of the school and promote and maintain relationships with families and the community.
Baker, who has been an assistant principal at Lincoln Middle School, principal of AUSD’s Summer School, and instructional coach, teacher, and teacher leader at the middle and high school levels, said his own children — a 3-year-old and a 1½-year-old — inspired him to adapt his professional style to serve students from transition kindergarten to fifth-grade level.
“Really it was their overflowing sense of curiosity and creativity that made me super interested in the minds of young learners. Personally, I want to be a part of the educational world they will be stepping into in a few years,” Baker said.
For Haight School in particular, Baker said he wants to make everyone — students, staff, and families — feel great about being a part of the community and to support every individual in finding his or her own brand of success. His previous experience providing professional development on restorative practices, positive behavioral interventions, and cooperative learning strategies, as well as coaching teachers in innovative lesson planning and culturally relevant pedagogy, are sure to prove helpful in this regard. Baker also speaks English and Spanish and is learning Mandarin along with his children. He is a member of the Principal Leadership Institute at UC Berkeley and Teachers for Social Justice.
“Haight already has the systems and structures for success, and my main role is to connect people with the resources they need,” he said. “I’m looking forward to all the joy I get from working with the students and all the fun we’ll have coming together as a community.”
In addition to the principal change, Haight School has recently transitioned to serve a larger student population, with many former Lum School students having transferred there last year. The school is also undergoing formal steps for a potential name change. Baker said all of these transitions offer an opportunity to reflect and re-envision what everyone wants the school to be, and as a new principal, he will bring fresh ideas and energy to the process.
“One thing I love about Alameda is that many of our challenges are also our assets when looked at from another point of view. In the past, Lum and Haight may have been thought of as two distinct communities, but really it’s always been Central Alameda,” Baker explained. “The Haight campus had the capacity to become a larger school, embracing more families, and that’s a good thing. Renaming the school could be a rare opportunity for the whole Island to consider our core values here in the 21st century and which names might embody that spirit.”
Both Baker and Crawford are Alameda residents. One of Crawford’s two kids attends ASTI; the other will be going to Wood next year. Her husband, also an educator, works in special ed on the island. Crawford said she enjoys strolling Park and Webster streets, going to Rock Wall, reading books and supporting Books, Inc., swimming, taking her rescue dog to the dog park, and going to the beach.
Baker said chasing his kids around the playground is his main source of entertainment and exercise, but you’ll also find him jogging on the lagoon path or grabbing some wings at Monkey King.