Published: Granite Bay Today, Nov. 21, 2015.
Reason for publication: My journalism teacher posted on our Facebook page about the resignation of one of Granite Bay High School’s assistant principal at around 7 a.m.. By 4:00 p.m. my fellow Co-Editor-In-Chief Savitri Asokan and I had co-written the article and posted it to Facebook. I conducted all of the interviews and we both wrote the story. The online version is here.
Granite Bay High School assistant principal Sybil Healy announced her intent to leave her position and relocate to Adelante High School to the staff this morning and eventually open her own charter school. Healy, who has worked for several years in the Roseville Joint Union High School District and is a founding member of GBHS, has been serving as an assistant principal since July 2013. She will be leaving in the middle of the year.
Healy’s departure will leave a hole in the school community, her colleagues said.
“I’m sad (she’s leaving, but) I know she has other things she wants to pursue,” GBHS principal Jennifer Leighton said. “Working at Adelante allows her to not have any evening events, (unlike) the many (we have) here. She’s never made her ambitions a secret – she wants to open her own school, and if this affords her that opportunity and it gets her there faster, that’s fine.”
Assistant principal Jessup McGregor also said her presence will be missed. Healy adds “a lot of character” to the school, McGregor said.
“I’m sad (she’s leaving), because she cares more about kids than the average human being,” McGregor said. “(Our relationship is) very friendly and very positive. My kids went to her without asking any questions the first time we met her, and my littlest one wanted to be held by her, which I use as a character judgment. We’ve gotten along very well and I have a lot of respect for her.”
In addition to her positive personality traits, McGregor lauded Healy’s administrative skills.
“She’s also really good at getting kids to do what they need to do without making them upset with her, which is very valuable,” McGregor said. “She’s going to do really good things wherever she goes. I’m excited for the kids at Adelante to be able to have her there.”
For years, Healy has been looking beyond her position as assistant principal. McKenzie Healy, Sybil Healy’s daughter, said she thinks “it’s awesome” her mother is moving forward to fulfill her aspirations.
“She always wanted to pursue bigger things,” McKenzie Healy said. “It’s truly amazing that after all these years she’s finally making it a reality. She’s a hard worker and a great leader, so it’s sad she’s leaving a school I loved so much. But she’s doing what’s best for her and will benefit a lot of people.”
When she arrived in the 2013-2014 school year, Healy initially faced some antagonism from students for her enforcement of the previously neglected dress code and senior conduct policy. These sparked student protest in the form of posters distributed on campus, and a string of Gazette articles – the September 2013 edition’s cover story, titled “No ifs, ands or butts,” and the accompanying editorial “Female bodies are not inherently shameful” – which culminated in the infamous illustration of Healy as an austere judge for the story “Class of 2014: On the Stand.”
However, this perception has largely been transformed into one of supportiveness, benevolence and appreciation. Senior Sammi Tafoya said Healy is “understanding and not harsh,” a figure who “relates to the girls more” and fills a gender gap in the administration.
“She is one of the assistant principals who really connects with their students,” Tafoya said. “I do see her as an authority figure, but we have mutual respect. She treats me as not just a student, but a friend.”
Senior and student government member Brigid Bell agreed with Tafoya’s feeling of camaraderie and connection.
Noting “a certain charisma” about Healy, Bell said that she “really expresses that she cares about the kids.”
“She’s very transparent with the student body,” Bell said. “Which is different.”
As the only female assistant principal, Healy brings an element of diversity which the school previously lacked. Moreover, after Healy leaves, GBHS will no longer have any certificated African-American staff members.
“It’s definitely really nice to have a woman as an assistant principal, because she gets where girls are coming from,” Bell said. “And she brought a certain amount of diversity. Without that, the (minority) students on our campus will feel a little alienated. It was nice to have her as a figurehead for diversity because GBHS does lack diversity.”
As Healy prepares to leave, the search for a replacement begins. All candidates are welcome, but having an administrative woman as an assistant principal has its benefits, Leighton said, adding that the perks of having a female are especially beneficial when dealing with disciplinary issues.
“I don’t think we’re going to find somebody who has all the wonderful qualities she has,” Leighton said. “If there is someone who walks in like that, I’ll be thrilled – but I’ll just have to look at the (applicants) and see what I can do. It’s only (a) half a year (position), so maybe we can look again next fall, if it doesn’t work out very well this year.”
Finding a new administrative member midyear poses a challenge, but Healy’s displacement to Adelante was chiefly proposed as the solution to the conflict of interest that arose with her working at GBHS while also working on the charter school, Century High School, Healy said.
Century High School is marketed as an “integrated global studies academy” and will be a tuition-free boarding school. Because Healy is going through RJUHSD to start Century, the district decided to move her to Adelante for the spring semester to make the situation more equitable. Ostensibly, Healy might divert the staff and parents of GBHS.
At Century, Healy’s position will be equivalent to a CEO or superintendent.
“It’s basically my dream (to open) an international high school,” Healy said. “It’s globally focused and project-based, and there’s a lot of support for students (and) mentorships.”
Most prominently, the difference between GBHS and Century is in class size. At Century, 25 students is the maximum, and the total student body will consist of 500 students.
But the critical characteristic of the school will be the emphasis on global perspective. 21st century skills, global studies, mentorships, international connections, bilingual students and inquiry-based learning as key aspects of the Century curriculum. Additionally, Healy envisions individual learning plans, so each student is tracked for emotional, social and academic progress.
While she is excited to work on the establishment of Century – which is expected to open in the fall of 2016 – Healy said her exit from GBHS is bittersweet – while sad about leaving, opening Century is a new experience to look forward to.
“I’ll miss everyone a great deal,” Healy said. “It’s going to be very hard (to leave) because I opened the high school in 1996, so I’ve been in the district forever. But I’m excited to be on a different adventure. I hope students look at (my change of plans) and think, ‘I can do that too. I can change midstream and do something different, something I really believe in, and follow my passions.”