New assistant principal aims to increase community engagement of minorities

Amy Yu and Malia Wanderer

Assistant Principal Wendy Stratton plans Back to School Night on her computer. Assistant principals have to be able to manage multiple different tasks, according to Stratton. “I was in the same role actually up at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley for the last five years,” Stratton said. “You have to be really comfortable juggling all of your different roles all the time.” Photo: Amy Yu

The Paly Voice sat down with Wendy Stratton, new assistant principal to learn about her journey to Palo Alto High School and her plans for the Special Education and Physical Education departments, which she oversees.

Stratton’s responsibilities also include leading the athletics program, supervising school safety and overseeing testing, and she is in charge of discipline and student needs for the Class of 2023.

“The thing about assistant principals is that we have many hats,” Stratton said.  “That is for me, what makes it [being an assistant principal] fun.”

Stratton was inspired to come to Paly because of its ability to make a difference in the lives of people from underrepresented groups.

“I believe we can disrupt the equity gap,” Stratton said. “We have a ton of really amazing people who work here who, combined with the resources and the will to make this change, can disrupt the equity gap.”

According to Stratton, her primary goal is to look at all of her responsibilities through an equity lens and seek out different perspectives from the Paly community.

“I want to ask myself when I am sitting in meetings: ‘what are we missing right now?’ and ‘who is being impacted by a decision that we are making that we are not thinking about?’” Stratton said. “I am looking at promoting parent engagement, collaboration, and multiple perspectives in the work.” 

Before coming to Paly, Stratton started as an English teacher at the McKinley Institute of Technology in Redwood City before shifting to mainly teaching Physical Education after a few years. During her time at McKinley, Stratton got both a teaching credential and a National Board Certification in PE.

“I particularly liked being a PE teacher in the school I was in because kids were really stressed,” Stratton said. “I felt like I created a bright spot in their day, and it is time for them to just kind of relax and be physical.”

Stratton has dealt with administrative responsibilities previous to Paly. She was an assistant principal at Tamalpais High School for five years. 

Outside of her administrative duties, Stratton said she values health and fitness.

“If you are not taking care of yourself, you are really not a good role model for others, and you cannot do your best,” Stratton said. “I keep my mindset healthy around that too. It is like I want to do it and feel good about myself and not guilt myself when I do not.”