PMP352: Grow Your Leadership with the Palo Alto High School Admin Team

Will Parker sits down with the admin team of Palo Alto High School to discuss the Grow Leadership Academy, a mastermind lead by Will.

When Brent Kline, Principal of Palo Alto High School, led me into the doorway of the original campus two-story tower building, erected in 1918, I was wearing a hard hat. We stepped carefully through as a construction engineer explained the work being done. For the past year, the offices and services housed in the two-story, 23,000 square feet building had been moved to portals and other locations around campus. 

Now the structure was under renovation with entirely new heating and air, electricity and plumbing being installed. We walked through hallways and office spaces bare of ceilings with interiors being reconstructed to meet the needs of a 21st Century building that would house administrative, counseling, wellness, adult education and tutoring services. Soon the entire roof would be replaced and the exterior repaired and repainted.

Palo Alto High School (or Paly, as they like to call it) serves approximately 2,000 students and has a diverse student body, reflecting the multicultural nature of the region. It has a reputation for academic excellence and is known for enrolling a high number of students who pursue college education after graduation. It also offers many courses and activities that value student expression in sciences, creativity and athletics.

The administrative team includes Principal Brent Kline and Assistant Principals Jerry Berkson, LaDonna Butler, Erik Olah, and Michelle Steingart. During the 2022-23 school year, Brent Kline, Principal of Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, California, invited me to meet with his admin team for monthly Principal Matters Grow Leadership Academy sessions, which included live, virtual Zoom meetings. Each month we discussed different school leadership responsibility areas and reflected on applications to their own school community.

On June 7, 2023, I had the privilege to visit Brent, Jerry, LaDonna, Erik and Michelle in-person and interview them as a group.

This week’s podcast episode includes:

  • Feedback from each principal on how long they have served in education and something you may be surprised to know about them
  • Ways Palo Alto High School has focused on equity as a priority for all student learning
  • Highlights from academic and extracurricular successes happening at Palo Alto High School
  • Takeaways from the Grow Leadership Academy and how it helps them in their own lives and leadership
  • An what advice they would give new education leaders who may be stepping into a new season or school year

I want to extend gratitude to this amazing team of leaders for their year-long commitment to learning, reflecting, and growing together. Also, I want to thank them and their Superintendent Don Austin for inviting me to present to their entire district leadership team on June 8, 2023, where we collaborated around ideas from my book Pause. Breathe. Flourish.: Living Your Best Life as an Educator.

Just as they are renovating a more than one hundred year old building on their campus, the Paly team continues to renovate their practices – never being satisfied with the status quo and consistently seeking new ways to better meet the needs of students. 

You can learn more about Palo Alto High School or reach out to any of the Paly Admin Team members at their website:

Interested in a Grow Academy for your team? Learn more here:

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker