June 3, 2003 - Inside Bay Area: Tonga RPCV Mary Beth Barloga retires in San Leandro after 32 years serving students

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: June 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: June 3, 2003 - Inside Bay Area: Tonga RPCV Mary Beth Barloga retires in San Leandro after 32 years serving students

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Tonga RPCV Mary Beth Barloga retires in San Leandro after 32 years serving students





Read and comment on this story from Inside Bay Area on Tonga RPCV Mary Beth Barloga who is retiring this year in San Leandro after 32 years serving students. At the time, Tonga was a "pre-developing" nation without electricity, and Barloga helped construct two schools there -- one from thatch and one from cinder blocks. Since then, Barloga has built a 32-year career as a teacher and principal in San Leandro schools. "Mary Beth has been an (educational) icon for many parents, students and educators in this town," according to parent Anna Badger. "She can still be optimistic at a time in education when things are not all that rosy." Read the story at:

Retiring San Leandro principal spent 32 years serving students, helped pioneer outdoor education classes*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



Retiring San Leandro principal spent 32 years serving students, helped pioneer outdoor education classes

By Jason Bono, STAFF WRITER

THE San Leandro school district seemed overwhelming in its wealth of resources when Mary Beth Barloga first became a teacher here in 1971.

She was coming from two years with the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga, a nation of 117 islands in Western Polynesia. At the time, Tonga was a "pre-developing" nation without electricity, and Barloga helped construct two schools there -- one from thatch and one from cinder blocks, she said.

Since then, Barloga has built a 32-year career as a teacher and principal in San Leandro schools. She plans to retire this month.

"Mary Beth has been an (educational) icon for many parents, students and educators in this town," according to parent Anna Badger. "She can still be optimistic at a time in education when things are not all that rosy."

Barloga will finish her fifth school year as principal at Bancroft Middle School. She previously was principal at Roosevelt Elementary, and taught at Roosevelt, Monroe and the former Cleveland Elementary.

She was named the district's administrator of the year and received a regional merit award from the Bay Area School Leadership Cen- ter. Barloga also led Roose- velt to recognition twice as a California Distinguished School and once as a National Blue Ribbon School finalist.

Highlights of her career include her early endeavors into outdoor education and "living history" as a teacher, Barloga said.

She and her colleagues took large groups of students on camping trips to places such as Santa Cruz and Yosemite, where they would "wake up with raccoon prints on their pillows," before outdoor education businesses became commonplace.

Barloga also led activities where students "lived history." For example, she once helped turn Casa Peralta into old-time San Leandro, where students dressed and played historic parts.



Mary Beth Barloga came to the San Leandro school district after two years with the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga, a nation of 117 islands in Western Polynesia.

"I hope we don't just go to filling in bubbles to find out what kids know," Barloga said. "I wouldn't want my grandchildren in that kind of school."

According to teachers and administrators, Barloga has brought her pioneering approach into her work as an administrator. She has worked closely with the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative to help close the achievement gap with the hope that "your ZIP code won't determine your SAT score."

Barloga's enthusiasm was a major reason that Maureen Forney and her family moved years ago to their neighborhood near Bancroft and Roosevelt Elementary. Forney is now a teacher at Bancroft, and her daughter Amelia is an eighth-grader at the school.

"Mary Beth is awfully ambitious, and she has a lot of ideas," said Forney. "It's sometimes hard to keep up.

"To me, working with a principal who encourages innovation and change is like a dream come true," she added. "That's what I'll miss most about Mary Beth."

Past and present students also speak appreciative words about Barloga.

Linda Granger now works as an administrator in the school district's educational services department. But, years ago, Barloga was Granger's teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School.

Granger remembers Barloga as the caring and "cool" teacher to whom all students wanted to be assigned.

"Now, I see what incredible dedication to the district and students and community she has, and I want to model myself in the same path," Granger said.

Bancroft sixth-grader D'Juan Woolridge looks back over a shorter period to when he started this school year as the new kid on the block. Barloga took the time to show him around and get him off on the right footing.

"After a kid threw my shoe in the toilet and did one and two on it, she gave me a pair of shoes," he said. "Most people wouldn't even bother. I think she's a really nice person."

Jason Bono covers schools. He can be reached at (510) 293-2479 or at jbono@ang-

newspapers.com .

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