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June 18, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, June 18, 2004

Bubb gets a new principal Bubb gets a new principal (June 18, 2004)

By Julie O'Shea

After a whirlwind three-month search, the Mountain View-Whisman School District announced Monday that Ruth Willen, a veteran principal currently working in Houston, will take over as head of Bubb Elementary.

Willen replaces Diana Hallack, who resigned in March to "go onto other opportunities," according to Superintendent Jim Negri.

Willen, 60, formally accepted the job last week, Negri said. Her annual salary is $105,507. The school board is expected to close the deal Thursday (after the Voice's press time). Willen will move to California in July and will officially begin work Aug. 1.

"She brings a great wealth of administrative experience with her," Negri said. "She's someone who's going to be a dynamic leader." Negri added that Willen was one of 20 applicants vying for the job.

Willen said she and her husband were eagerly looking to move back to California, where their two children and four grandchildren live.

The Peninsula "really called to us," Willen said, adding that her husband accepted a principal position at Corte Madera School in Portola Valley.

An administrator at the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston, where Willen has been a principal for seven years, gave Willen a glowing recommendation.

Sofia Petrou, an executive administrator of school improvement, said Willen is easy to talk to, a great collaborator and is "very visionary."

"She is always on the ball," Petrou said. "She works well with parents. She works well with teachers. I think any school would be fortunate to have her.

"I wish her a lot of luck," Petrou said. "I think (Willen) will leave a great void in leadership in a community that is very, very demanding."

Willen has spent the past seven years heading Hollibrook Elementary School, a 829-pupil school in Houston. Bubb's enrollment is around 450.

She said she is looking forward to settling in at her new campus, emphasizing that she wants to work with both parents and school staff to make Bubb the best it can be.

"Every school's unique and every school's different," Willen said. "I'm not a person who thinks we have a parent camp, a student camp and a teacher camp. We have a 'we' camp."

Prior to Hollibrook, Willen, a native of New York, was a principal for six years in the Black Oak Mine Unified School District in Georgetown, Calif. where she worked with Rich Fischer, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos high school district.

Willen has also worked for the Mount Diablo and El Dorado high school districts as a teacher and counselor.

Willen, who enjoys reading, cooking and traveling in her spare time, earned a bachelor's degree in history from Adelphi University, her administrative credential from Chico State University and a master's in counseling leadership and a pupil personnel services credential from St. Mary's College.

"It looks like she is really committed to staff development, which we really need," said Bubb PTA president Taylor House. "I look forward to working with her."

E-mail Julie O'Shea at [email protected]

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