The to-do list for any educator seems almost endless in August. Preparing for the start of the school year is a hectic, exhausting practice. It’s even more crazed when you’re joining a new school district in a new role – the computer system is different, the hallways are a labyrinth, and there is a never-ending stream of information to digest.
Kimberly Winters’ to-do list is long, but it can’t match her excitement to be the new principal at Barrett Elementary.
“It’s absolutely a learning process,” she said with a smile. “I’m coming from 19 years of doing something one way and pretty much not having any of those comforts here in the sense of different systems, policies, and procedures. So, it is a learning curve, but I'm very excited for it. I'm anxious and I can't wait to get started.”
Mrs. Winters was hired over the summer to take over for Kevin Walsh, who retired at the end of last school year. A Greenfield native, she went to high school at Oakland Catholic and then West Allegheny. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s in school administration from Duquesne University. Mrs. Winters spent the last 19 years with Pittsburgh Public Schools, most of it at Arlington PreK-8, where she was an assistant principal.
“I believe really that in order to see success from kids, you have to start early,” she said. “You have to reach them, if you can, in kindergarten, because when they realize how important school is at an early age, they tend to be more successful as they're going into high school and beyond.”
After several years as an assistant principal, Mrs. Winters felt she was ready for the next step in her career. The proximity and familiarity of Steel Valley made the opening at Barrett Elementary a match.
“I feel like it was just a place where I felt like I fit and I definitely was excited to move on to the next step in my career, which was to be a principal,” she said.
One of the benefits of being a building leader is establishing a wide-range of connections, from the students and teachers you see every day to the parents and community partners you meet throughout the week. The mom of two and self-professed dog lover and Steelers fanatic said she plans to be very active in building relationships and believes it is important for her to be accessible to parents.
“I will be out in the community, because I want people to see that we're going to make Barrett a premier school,” she said. “I'm going to be very visible. I believe that it's important for a principal to be visible. Parents need to know me, not just know me through a phone or an email.”
As is the case at every school, Ms. Winters’ initial focus is on the safety of students and staff. But her long-term goals are centered on elevating Barrett to be a high-performing, positive environment for students, their parents, and the community.
“It's not just about the education,” she said. “It's about each child as an individual, and how we can make that child the best that they can be.”