McAuley Appoints New Head of School

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K. Barr

Catherine McAuley High School is delighted to announce that Kathryn Woodson Barr has been appointed as its fourth Head of School in its forty-five year history. Ms. Barr will succeed Deborah Kost, who has served as Interim Head of School during the past school year. Mrs. Kost will be returning to her family and professional life in Pennsylvania with the School’s appreciation and gratitude for her dedicated service.

Ms. Barr brings nearly 20 years of school leadership and teaching experience to the Catherine McAuley community.  These leadership experiences include serving as Head of School for the Highlands School in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as Head of the Lower School for the Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Memphis, Tennessee.  Her accomplishments at those schools included both educational enrichment, expanding the international aspects of the school, and increasing enrollment and financial support.  This past year, she was selected to be a Leadership Development Coach in Vanderbilt University’s prestigious Peabody College of Education, where she coached and mentored high school administrators in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In addition to being a school leader, she is a teacher at heart, committed to a progressive, technologically-enhanced, globally-inspired education.  She was elected as the Outstanding Administrator of 2012 – 2013 by the Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers.  Kathryn earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Rhodes College and her Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Memphis.

The School’s national search for a successor Head of School has been in progress during much of this past year.  Heidi Osborn, Chair of the Board of Trustees, noted, “The Search Committee of the Board of Trustees was very pleased with the number and quality of applicants who were interested in bringing their expertise to our mission. Kathryn was our standout choice, and we are thrilled to have her join us.  She is a tested and innovative school leader who is committed to our values and mission. We are confident that her special brand of warmth, intelligence and excitement will enrich the educational experience of our girls and help build a vibrant future for our school.”

“I am very excited to be named Catherine McAuley High School’s fourth Head of School and extend my thanks to the Search Committee and to the Board of Trustees for giving me the opportunity to work within this vibrant community,” commented Ms. Barr. “During the search process, everyone I met shared an enthusiastic commitment to the all-girl advantage that McAuley provides. My goal is to build on the work of Sister Edward Mary Kelleher, Mrs. Deborah Kost and the strategic plan to continue the work of positioning McAuley as a premier academic institution for young women. In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to getting to know the McAuley community and forging our exciting future together.”

Ms. Barr joins McAuley at an exciting time.  The Trustees and administration have been working on a series of initiatives to shape the future of the School, all in alignment with its five-year strategic plan.  During the past year, the School has been focused on expansion and improvement, including new professional development for its faculty, a rigorous curriculum review, new enrollment outreach and expanded financial access. The School has also begun a partnership with St. Joseph’s College to help support the quality of education at McAuley. 

“McAuley is a unique and irreplaceable institution with a rich history and inspiring legacy.  We are committed to taking that Mercy mission and the very special all-girl advantage to a new level.  Our exciting new future has academics at the forefront, with a cutting-edge curriculum, an even higher level of teaching skill, and new academic and co-curricular offerings, all central to enhancing the holistic education and personal development we provide for young women.  Kathryn’s leadership will be essential to that future,” continued Osborn.