Santa Barbara High School is losing another principal to a more lucrative district job. In the case of Paul Turnbull, it will be the spot of assistant superintendent for the Santa Barbara High School District. Superintendent Brian Sarvis made the announcement in front of Santa Barbara High teachers on April 24 with Turnbull alongside him. He fills a space created by current assistant superintendent Jan Zettel, who is retiring in June.
Turnbull came to Santa Barbara High in 2005 after Kristine Robertson, hired in 2003, was promoted to Director of Personnel for the district.
“Paul Turnbull has tremendous energy,” said Sarvis, “and also the respect of his peers.” Sarvis noted that Turnbull was not selected because of his “standout programs,” but rather his influences on Santa Barbara High School.
Under Turnbull’s tenure, the Dons surpassed San Marcos High School in its API index scores for 2006. It was also the only high school in the district to increase its scores year upon year. The school’s attendance records have increased as well, and last year it had the fewer suspensions than San Marcos and Dos Pueblos high schools.
“It’s hard to leave a place like Santa Barbara High School because of its incredible people,” said Turnbull. “Schools all have the same structures and operate in relatively the same ways. However, Santa Barbara High School is special because of its history and because of our caring community.”
Santa Barbara High was also set apart from other high schools in the nation by Harvard University Graduate School of Education earlier this year. Seven teachers visited Harvard during the summer of 2006 to share how Santa Barbara was improving its instruction methods between teachers. Several of its teachers were interviewed by visiting Harvard professors and students about the way teachers at SBHS network their ideas with other faculty members and work collaboratively.
Among the staff, there were some concerns as to whether this networking method was being utilized as widely as envisioned by the school’s administration. However, Sarvis said this was one program he wanted Turnbull to spread to the other schools in the secondary district as a way for teachers throughout the district to network their ideas better and to create more unity.
Turnbull has added some new programs to the community as well. Last year he supervised the creation of a new academy at the school, the Academy of Public Policy and Leadership. Kurt Schultz, an SBHS teacher and adviser to the Public Policy Academy said it was created because Turnbull wanted to create a humanities academy. Schultz recalled, “He was looking to build on things we do really well.” The Academy has been successful in connecting English and history courses offered by the school with knowledge of public policy.
When Turnbull arrived in the fall of 2005, he promised to the school that his door would always be open to people asking questions, expressing concerns, or seeking support. Schultz recalls that Turnbull has been “supportive of teachers and students,” as a principal. “He’s always tried to help [teachers] work together to do the work of education.”
Towards the middle of May, Sarvis said a committee, made up of Santa Barbara High faculty members, parents, and student leaders, would begin the selection process for a new principal. Turnbull himself will be responsible for getting the new principal acquainted with some of the programs he has set into place.
Despite the change in leadership, he did not fear any hiccup in the school’s progress. “Our school will not ‘lose ground’ in the coming years,” said Turnbull. “I am one person among hundreds who support students daily, and it is up to the Dons community to continue the momentum that has been building for the last few years.”