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    School hires a new assistant principal

    Pearl Chan brings her unique point of view to improve the school
    Tansy Velush
    Principal Pearl Chan and Principal David Fort supervising students as they leave from school

    As sun streamed through an open door, a woman strides across a lobby filled with talkative students. On the walls around the area, posters advertising various clubs, and an upcoming homecoming spirit week hang on the walls, and the woman pauses to glance at them as she passes by. 

    After not being a school administrator for a number of years, Pearl Chan started working Ballard as an assistant principal earlier this fall, bringing a unique perspective on how to better the school and community. 

    “I specifically really want to look at how we can expand Ballard’s community to be more accepting of students who are traditionally on the outside,” Chan said about how she wanted to help improve the school. 

    Chan was previously a special education teacher, first in New York, and then in nearby Seattle districts. She cites this as one of the reasons for her mindfulness about each student’s unique perspective and experience at Ballard, and fellow Assistant Principal David Fort agrees with this. 

    “Just being able to bring that lens on each student’s individual needs is exactly what we’re focused on as a school, so having an administrator with that lens is just great, and it really helps the conversations with teachers, as well as with the rest of the administrators because it’s just this nice personal focus on each individual and the importance of each individual,” Fort said. 

    Chan was not planning to become an educator when she began college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. 

    “I was going to go into prelaw, and I took one intro to special education course,” Chan said. 

    At that time, Chan was majoring in Latin, and she thought it would be good to have a backup plan in case becoming a lawyer didn’t work out. 

    “I could teach Latin,” Chan said. “That could always be my plan B, so I took a special education course and absolutely loved it. 

    Vanderbilt, being one of the top-rated universities in the US, Chan can attest to their programs reflecting this. 

    “Every single class has what’s called a practicum which means you must do some sort of student teaching for every single class, even if it’s an intro class,” Chan said. “I volunteered with the special Olympics class as part of my coursework, and I just loved it.” 

    Chan worked for a few districts in Seattle for the five years she was in the area before taking this job. Prior to moving to Seattle, Chan was an assistant principal in New York City. 

    “This last year, I was like a teacher coach, and for the three years before that I was a behavior dean at a very large middle school,” Chan said. 

    In Chan’s free time, she enjoys traveling, and she has been to 33 countries. She currently has two young children, so much of her free time is spent doing activities which are fun for them, but not something Chan would choose to do on her own.  

    “This past weekend, I took them to a children’s play and I took them to a pumpkin patch, so that’s not something I necessarily want to do, but they loved it,” Chan said. 

    Chan’s experiences from traveling around the world and living around the US are another asset which she is hoping to bring to the school. 

    “I think being an outsider sometimes is a huge advantage because when you’ve been here for a long time, or even a few years, and you see it day to day, it’s hard to see things from a neutral perspective,.” she said. 

    The school bell rings, and the students slowly move in different directions, some down a set of stairs, and some into a nearby hallway.  Chan turns from the poster and heads down a second hallway, towards her new office, ready to start her job at Ballard. 


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