OAKLAND -- The Crocker Highlands Elementary School community is celebrating the permanent appointment of Jocelyn Kelleher as the school's principal.
Kelleher had been the interim principal at the school this academic year.
Kelleher, a veteran teacher of 23 years, was hired just two weeks before the start of the 2012-2013 school year. Before her appointment last year, Kelleher taught at Piedmont Middle School for 17 years.
"I feel like I've landed in a good spot," Kelleher said. "It's a really good fit. I'm lucky to have a dedicated staff and an involved parent community."
Kelleher remembered her husband telling her before her first day of school: "School needs to look like school." She took his advice and focused on the basics during her first weeks and took one week at a time.
Her tactics have worked. By all accounts, Kelleher has been a success in her first administrative position.
"It really has been a seamless transition for Crocker Highlands. The students really respect her. She is deeply engaged with all aspects of the school," said Kathy de Rosas, a 3D and clay art specialist for the school.
"She is a great, great find," said Susan Keiter, a parent of a fourth- and second-grader and avid volunteer at the school. "It's been an easy transition due to Joci's personality and management style. She is unassuming, caring, and very open to other's ideas from parents and teachers about how the school could run better.
"She had really big shoes to fill," Keiter continued. "Beth Rhines was adored. She (Kelleher) has filled them so capably."
"The previous principal was super organized and spent hours orienting me. She left me in good shape. She really cared about the school," Kelleher said.
"I love walking through the halls and kids giving me the high five," Kelleher said. "There is a sweetness of little kids. They are excited to see you in the classroom and on the playground. The energy of elementary school kids is refreshing.
"I wasn't sure how much time I would spend with the kids," she continued. "I've been pleasantly surprised. I spend time on the playground and in the classrooms. Sometimes I get out of the office just to see the kids. Sometimes I substitute in the classrooms. Sometimes I provide instruction like a tutor. It's gratifying. I'm not getting to know individual kids as well, but I'm getting to know more kids and their families."
Kelleher said: "I really like working with teachers on curriculum and being a curriculum leader. I know what this looks like from the other side. I know what kind of support I liked getting. I've enjoy working with other principals and sharing ideas. I have no peers on-site. The community of principals has totally welcomed me.
"I like how (as a principal) it (my job) is different every day," she continued. "As a teacher you can plan out your day. I like that I don't know what's going to come my way most days. It's exciting, I don't know what's going to happen when I wake up in the morning."
In addition, Kelleher has moved from the smaller Piedmont district to a large one in Oakland.
"Both districts are about kids and want them to learn. Oakland has a gazillion departments focusing on different things. I am learning how to navigage the different departments," Kelleher said.
Her first year has gone so well that the Crocker community took measures to ensure that she would be named the school's permanent principal, organizing a letter writing campaign spearheaded by the school's parent teacher organization.
Keiter describes Kelleher as a form of superwoman.
"She cannot humanly do any more than she is doing. I appreciate her transparency, and her leadership. That is Joci," Keiter said.