Former BVH Assistant Principal becomes Acting Principal of Options Secondary School


Jennifer Dye

The College-Going Culture Committee gathered on Sep. 12, 2019 for their monthly meeting to discuss ways they can motivate students to apply for college and pursue at least a four year college education after high school. This committee was one of the several programs that former Assistant Principal Jennifer Barker-Heinz facilitated and will now be managed by Acting Assistant Principal Jason Josafat, Ed.D..

At the Sep. 28 Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) board meeting, it was announced that Bonita Vista High (BVH) Assistant Principal Jennifer Barker-Heinz would be appointed as Acting Principal of Options Secondary School (OSS). Barker-Heinz will no longer be employed at BVH and her position is now being filled by Acting Assistant Principal Jason Josafat, Ed.D.. 

Barker-Heinz was asked to fulfill this position two days prior to the official announcement. By Oct. 5, she began her new position in the district as Acting Principal of OSS, taking the position of former Principal Mercedes Lopez. Currently, it is unknown if Barker-Heinz will remain as Principal at OSS since her role is to serve as acting until June of 2021.

“When I got the call, I was surprised. But once they presented me with what [OSS] is about [and] the students it serves, I thought to myself… I certainly have the skill set and the knowledge to work with the students and the staff there. So I had to remind myself that I am qualified, but certainly some of the process of being a principal is a little different from being an Assistant Principal,” Barker-Heinz said. 

Compared to BVH, OSS has a much smaller student body. While BVH has around 2,400 students, OSS only has approximately 100 and serves students who have had academic, mental or other challenges in traditional school environments. OSS provides similar services to BVH; however, it has students from seventh to twelfth grade. In addition, it has similar programs including Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), Advanced Placement (AP) and A through G graduation requirements. 

“I think some of the [main] differences [between BVH and OSS] is that [OSS] is considered an alternative school and its mission is to be a safe and inclusive smaller setting for students that may not be thriving at a big comprehensive school,” BVH Principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D., said. 

Since beginning the transition from BVH to OSS, Barker-Heinz expressed that she has been doing her best to introduce herself to students and staff. 

“I’ve been visiting all of the distance learning classrooms. I’m trying to get into about three to four classrooms a day and introduce myself. I’ve had a School Site Council meeting with parents,” Barker-Heinz said. “Just like [BVH], we’ve had textbook pickups and drop offs at the beginning of the year. [OSS] is on a quarter system, so my students just started the new quarter system last week; quarter two. So, I’ve been meeting them during the day and saying hello as they drive through and get their books.”

Since the longevity of her position is currently unknown, Barker-Heinz will decide to apply when the opportunity arises in the next school year. 

“Right now, my focus is just ensuring that the students at [OSS] have a safe environment and are able to come back in some capacity to have one-on-one attention to assure they are making progress and they are staying on their pathway to college and career readiness,” Barker-Heinz said. “As it gets closer, I’ll determine if it’s the right move for me and if it is somewhere that I want to be. I’m sure it is a position [the district will] post, and I’ll determine then if I intend to officially apply for it.” 

At BVH previously, Heinz was assigned various responsibilities such as managing the master schedule, AP exams, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, the College Going Culture Committee and the Science Department, all of which expanded her presence on campus. 

“I was devastated! Mrs. [Barker-]Heinz is one of the people that I [worked] most closely with at the school, so it felt very much like a good friend moving away,” IB Coordinator and IB Math Analysis and Approaches HL 2 teacher Jared Phelps said. “She’s a gifted school administrator, and one of the people who taught me just how strong an effect a good school administrator can have on students! I know we’ll stay in touch.” 

Both Del Rosario and Phelps have expressed their excitement for Barker-Heinz and wish her the best in this new position as Acting Principal of OSS. 

“[Barker-Heinz] is going to do a great job there. One of Mrs. [Barker-]Heinz’s strengths is that she’s personable and really adept at listening and understanding. I think that’s important when you have students for a wide array of reasons that don’t feel [like] a regular school is working for them,” Del Rosario said. “[OSS is] more geared for students who are having a lot of challenges feeling like they’re part of the community.  I think that is one of Mrs. [Barker-]Heinz’s gifts, whether it’s [with] staff members, students or parents; they can go to her.”