UNION CITY (Wednesday, June 3, 2009) – Amy McNamara-Furtado, principal for the past five years at San Leandro High School – a large and diverse school where she focused on fostering equity and improving student achievement – was appointed Tuesday night by the Board of Education to serve as principal of James Logan High.
Ms. McNamara-Furtado, 38, will assume her new duties officially on July 1, but she plans to be a frequent visitor to the Logan campus in June.
“Amy is a true instructional leader, and her experience at San Leandro mirrors our needs at Logan,” New Haven Unified School District Superintendent Kari McVeigh said. “She’s been an outstanding principal at San Leandro, and her experience there has taught her how a large, diverse high school works. She will be an excellent leader at Logan.”
Logan, with approximately 4,000 students, is the largest high school in Alameda County. San Leandro, with nearly 2,700 students, ranks fourth, behind Berkeley (more than 3,300) and Castro Valley (more than 2,800).
Ms. McNamara-Furtado describes herself as “a huge fan of the concept of the large, comprehensive high school” and said she enjoys the challenge of “figuring out ways to make it feel smaller for students.”
“I know how a large comprehensive high school works and how important it is to value the people who work with you, respecting their areas of expertise and utilizing their strengths,” she said.
“Logan is an incredible school with wonderful programs, unbelievable facilities and a reputation for innovative teaching. And it has great diversity, which has tremendous appeal to me.”
Like Logan, San Leandro is an extremely diverse campus. Approximately one-third of the students are Hispanic and about one-quarter are Asian, almost identical to the percentages at Logan. The percentages of African Americans (19 percent at San Leandro, 11 percent at Logan) and whites (16 percent at San Leandro, 14 percent at Logan) also are similar.
At San Leandro, Ms. McNamara-Furtado “focused on issues of equity, raising student achievement and improving the quality of our educational program through facilities improvements and significant changes in curriculum and school culture,” she said, adding that “collaborating with teachers, students and parents (has) been an important part of our success.”
She said she is particularly proud of her work in creating “a high-functioning parent equity group that’s been transformational in diversifying parent leadership at the high school.”
Her experience impressed Superintendent McVeigh, as well as the panel of parents, teachers and administrators who screened the finalists, said Associate Superintendent of Personnel Derek McNamara (Ms. McNamara-Furtado and Mr. McNamara are not related).
“There are a lot of parallels between her experience at San Leandro and our most significant needs at Logan,” Superintendent McVeigh said.
Logan economics teacher and head football coach George Zuber worked with Ms. McNamara-Furtado at San Leandro.
“She’s a pleasure to work for,” Mr. Zuber said. “Kids love her, she’s personable with the staff and very passionate about what she does. She knows how to manage without micro-managing. What a great hire for our school and the District.”
Ms. McNamara-Furtado is familiar with the area, having taught at nearby American High School in Fremont from 1996 to 2001. Previously, she taught at Santa Fe (New Mexico) High School, and she also spent two years teaching in Thailand, as part of Harvard University’s WorldTeach Program.
A native of Albuquerque, N.M., Ms. McNamara-Furtado is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and earned her masters degree at California State University, Hayward (now CSU-East Bay). She is a past fellow of Stanford University’s Center for Leadership Education. An avid runner, she also enjoys hiking, traveling, reading and cooking.
Also on Tuesday night, the Board accepted the resignation of Logan’s 11th-grade house principal, John Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez has accepted a position at Cupertino High School, where former New Haven teacher and administrator Kami Tomberlain is the principal.