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New Principal Intends to Change Kennedy Culture

Recently hired David Paliughi has a vision to improve behavior and academic issues plaguing Kennedy Middle School.

David Paliughi cannot wait to begin his first year as principal at in Redwood City.

The 39-year-old was recently hired to guide the school out of the shadows following a field trip last year when two female classmates.

Paliughi, who recently moved to Redwood City, doesn't intend to allow the violations that occurred under the previous administration to mar his vision of what the school can become.

"Meeting the new students is what I'm anticipating the most," said Paliughi, whose daughter will begin her first year at the school on Monday as well.

Paliughi is a native of California's central valley, near Fresno, where he began his professional career as an educator.

Prior to joining the , he served as program manager and principal at Sanger Unified School District. He also served as principal at Wilson Elementary School in Sanger, CA.

He has been a continuation high principal, guidance learning specialist and nationally certified school psychologist, according to district spokeswoman Naomi Hunter.

Paliughi said his previous work experience has prepared him to take on the academic and disciplinary issues facing Kennedy Middle School.

As principal of Wilson Elementary for five years, Paliughi said he not only significantly improved academic achievement, but also turned around the school's culture.

"It was amazing to watch the teachers begin to believe more in their practices, the students believe more in themselves and community ask more of the school," he said.

"I saw what I had dreamed of come to fruition," said Paliughi.

After guiding the changes at Wilson, Paliughi said he sought a new challenge and looked to join another school district, eventually settling on Kennedy Middle School.

Paliughi said the school is in the process of as part of a greater district-wide effort. The review is intended to prevent violations such as those from last semester.

To further that effort, Paliughi said he has been involved in community outreach with the school's parents and students to help assure the public that Kennedy is a safe school.

"The unfortunate events at the end of last semester, I've found that from talks with the community, people don't feel that reflects Kennedy," said Paliughi.

He said he wants to bring back the sense of community that has long been a part of the school's history.

One element of that is attempting to keep the field trips to the Grand Canyon and Washington, D.C., which classes in the past have taken while at Kennedy, said Paliughi.

"Kennedy is a school that is rich in tradition," said Paliughi.

Paliughi also said he plans to improve the academic achievement at Kennedy, which will include heightening the expectations of what middle school students can accomplish.

He said that process begins by getting to know the families of students at Kennedy and building a relationship with greater Redwood City.

Paliughi said perhaps the most important duty for a principal is to lead by example.

"You've got to walk your talk," he said.

At least one parent of Kennedy students said she believes the school's culture will be different under the new leadership.

Georgia Jack, in for Redwood City Patch, said she thinks the addition of Paliughi to the school will lead to improved results.

"No doubt there will be changes at Kennedy," she wrote.

John Foley August 18, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Hopefully, before continuing the field trips to the Grand Canyon and Washington, D.C. our new principal will wonder why it has always been the same group of adults....rarely if ever open to new blood. Saying the old guard knows how to run the field trips is bogus as more qualified people have been turned down when they asked to chaperone. Time to cut the head of this snake.
Judi Cartright August 18, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Best of luck to Principal Paliughi as he tries to straighten out this middle school. It will probably be an uphill battle as change is needed at the district office. Strong teachers at our school who have high standards are often castigated. A district that supports loading some classes with known discipline problems to force teachers out will never improve. It would be an improvement if current supportive parents were quoted rather than those our staff knows from past involvement.....usually laughable. By the way, is the ex principal still receiving a principal's salary with an assistant principal's title now??
barbara August 18, 2011 at 11:32 PM
As a former CEC consultant at Kennedy (with 7th and 8th grade teachers, I was very impressed with many of the teachers for their knowledge of curriculum, their caring and efforts to "reach" their students and create a classroom climate where students can learn AND thrive. I just hope this new principal won't be so bogged down in all the rigiidity of the testing emphasis that he will ignore the need of talented teachers to have time and freedom to relate to their students and create a classroom community where students can and WANT to learn and work together. The climate created by No Child Left Behind severely discouraged this effort.
mary August 25, 2011 at 04:58 PM
I hope the new principal will emphasize that a second language is important but that second language should not be English.....come on, this is an English school and students should be required to speak in English! Office staff should also try to speak only in English....as an example to the students as well as the parents!

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