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Penny Barker Assumes Headship at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School - Houston

03-02-2021 10:58 AM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: St. Stephen's Episcopal School

HOUSTON, Texas, March 1, 2021 – The Board of Trustees of St. Stephen's Episcopal School is delighted to announce that Penny Barker is St. Stephen’s Head of School. Penny’s tenure begins today.

Penny has completed a month-long listening tour with all stakeholders. She reflects on this listening tour as follows. “St. Stephen’s is an exceptional school,” said Penny. “I am inspired by the strength of the community unified by its commitment to an educational mission which is both unique and empowering. It will by my privilege and joy to serve the families and faculty of St. Stephen’s as we all look forward with optimism and determination into this era of new growth.”

Penny brings to St. Stephen's a myriad of qualities that make her an exceptional fit for St. Stephen's: outstanding academic credentials, prior success as Head of School at an Episcopal school, a solid track record of increasing enrollment and annual fund giving, a history of collaborating with all stakeholders to strengthen community, a dedication to supporting and empowering faculty, and an unwavering commitment to educating students of diverse backgrounds.

Lisa Hunt, Church Rector and School Board President, said that "Penny's background and values align seamlessly with those of the school, and her international experience will be a huge asset for us."

"Penny is the right person at the right time," said School Board Vice-President Paige Pecore. "We look forward to a long, productive partnership with her as we build and grow as a school and community." Upon beginning its Head of School search in September, St. Stephen’s stated that it was looking for a leader who is "visionary, inspiring, and passionate about the School’s future, yet unafraid to roll up their sleeves and solve small problems or iron out operational details." Pecore stated that “Penny is exactly that kind of leader, and we are very fortunate to have her join our team.”

Penny Barker comes to St. Stephen’s by way of Mead Hall Episcopal School (a K-12 parish school with 320 students in Aiken, South Carolina), where she served as Interim Head of School for the 2018-19 school year. After the arrival of the school’s permanent Head for the 2019-20 school year, Penny was asked to stay on as the Associate Head, leading the school’s elementary division through the spring semester. In her two years at Mead Hall, Penny increased enrollment and annual giving while reducing attrition among faculty and families. She also improved the school’s strategic marketing and communications, the school's curriculum alignment, and commitments to diversity and student access. Penny moved to Houston in the summer of 2020 following her husband’s appointment to a new post.

While in the U.K., Penny led the social sciences division at Conyers School for four years before being appointed Assistant Principal at The King’s Academy (a Christian charter school with 1,200 students 6-12), where she worked on faculty development and improving student outcomes. In 2012, she moved to St. Hild’s Church of England School (a charter school with 800 students in an under-served neighborhood of Hartlepool in Northern England), where she served two years as Vice Principal before being appointed to lead the school. Penny led a comprehensive turnaround of St. Hild’s, focusing on instructional excellence, community development, curriculum innovation, student wellness, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

A first-generation college student, Penny holds a B.A. in Theology and Philosophy from the University of Oxford. She also earned a post-graduate diploma in international marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a post-graduate certificate in education from the University of Durham. She has been recognized by OFSTED (the U.K. Government Office for Standards in Education) and the Archbishop’s Council Education Division (Church of England) for leading rapid, sustained improvement in schools.

For more information, please contact Brent Fogt at bfogt@ststephenshouston.org or (734) 476-2658.

St. Stephen's Episcopal School
1800 Sul Ross St
Houston, TX 77098

St. Stephen's Episcopal is an Episcopal School located in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, Texas that provides a progressive, cohesive, and globally focused education for students 15 months – 8th grade. Using Montessori and International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC) curricula, St. Stephen's Episcopal encourages our students to become lifelong learners and influential global citizens.

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