Atterberry praised for inclusive leadership

Retiring principal brought ‘new sense of unity’ to staff

Natalia Gevara, Entertainment Editor

After three years, Principal Bill Atterberry will be heading into retirement after the conclusion of the 2015-2016 school year. The principal position will be filled by Hillary Harrell, who currently serves as vice principal of Franklin High School in Elk Grove.

In 2013, Bear Creek was looking for its third principal within a three-year period. Upon hearing about this opportunity, Atterberry, former principal of Lodi High School and Lincoln Tech, wasn’t hesitant to take on the job.

“When the position became available, it only took me about one day to decide to become to principal,” Atterberry said. “It has been everything and more.”

Coming to Bear Creek with a positive mindset, Atterberry aimed to work with the staff to improve the environment of the school.

“Coming in and trusting the staff and helping them create structures to be even more successful has been very good,” Atterberry said. “I think that we have done a lot for the students by working together.”

Atterberry’s administration has proven to be popular among Bear Creek’s staff, most citing a new sense of unity with his rein as principal.

“He’s really fair and he tries to listen to the staff and incorporate their ideas,” chemistry and physics teacher Jennifer Prins said. “So anytime there’s change, it’s not just him implementing it, it’s all of us together deciding.”

Atterberry was welcomed to Bear Creek during the 2013-2014 school year, after the release of Shirley McNichols. Within his three years as principal, the community of Bear Creek has seen improvements in many aspects.

“He has been a shining star in what was before a kind of dismal Bear Creek,” English teacher Laura LaRue said. “He has given the staff the opportunity to trust administration again, and that was definitely lacking in prior administrations.”

“He changed the attitude of the staff toward the administration drastically,” Spanish teacher Andres Gil said. “I think we’re in a really good relationship between staff and admin; it finally seems like it’s a team.”

Some of the other changes that the Bear Creek staff cites include fewer tardies and fights on campus, and an overall more welcoming atmosphere on campus. Additionally, Atterberry changed “Department Head Meetings” to “Leadership Meetings.”

Teachers agree that Atterberry has led administration substantially, by assuring that everyone on staff is included in the school’s decision making process instead of calling all of the shots himself.

“Atterberry has structured the leadership at Bear Creek to be able to exist without him, which is a great quality as a leader,” LaRue said. “We will definitely miss him.”

“I’m really proud of the structural leadership team that we formed to diffuse the leadership of the school so it’s not dependent on one person,” Atterberry said. “The proudest moment for me is going to the structural leadership team meetings and not having to say anything because it’s driving itself.”

Although Atterberry has only held his position for three years, he still feels that he has learned quite a bit. Atterberry believes that the diversity at Bear Creek is the most notable.

“I’ve learned that Bear Creek has the most diverse student body in the valley,”Atterberry said. “I think that is the school’s biggest strength, to have a culture that embraces and supports it (diversity) was eye-opening to me; it was heartwarming to see that.”