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Kenwood School’s Bob Bales retiring

Kenwood School’s Bob Bales retiring

By Alec Peters

After 23 years at the helm of Kenwood Elementary School, Superintendent/ Principal Bob Bales will be retiring at the end of the school year. Bales will be leaving in June with one year remaining on his contract. “I feel it’s a good time in my life to recharge and to look forward to the next chapter, whatever that may be,” said Bales, 61. Bales, known for his infectious optimism, high energy, and rapport with students, teachers, and staff, will be missed, said Pat Alexander, president of the Kenwood School District’s board of trustees.

“Bob made our lives as board members so easy,” said Alexander. “He has attracted and hired such amazing staff. In his tenure, he has gone through almost a complete turnover of teaching and administrative personnel. His open door style of management has rewarded our students with a fantastic learning environment… Bob’s active participation in many social and educational organizations has paid off for our school with a fantastic reputation amongst families, friends, and educators.” Bales announced his departure to staff members on Friday, Dec. 11.

Throughout his time at Kenwood, he has shepherded the one-school district through demographic changes in the community, economic ups and downs, wildfires, extended power shutoffs, and months of distance learning due to COVID-19.

“While the last three years have brought unusual and difficult challenges to our school, and others throughout Sonoma County, I am very proud of the way that all members of our team – teachers, classroom teaching assistants, office staff and support staff – have continually stepped up to always put children first and to maintain our focus on providing the best possible educational program for our students. I think we have met every challenge with perseverance, resilience, passion and kindness.”

Currently the K-6 grade elementary school has an enrollment of 132 students, 57 percent of whom have transferred from outside the school district. The district, which also has a preschool program, currently has a budget of about $3 million.

Bales was hired to lead Kenwood School in June of 1998. This year marks his 38th year as an educator. He taught elementary school for nine years before becoming a principal in the Central Valley town of Waterford in 1992-94. Bales, a Marin County native, then served as principal of Bacich Elementary School in Kentfield from 1994-1998.

Not one to shy away from having fun, Bales can often be found on the playground during recess, even after enduring a torn ligament or two over the years. Running from his Petaluma home to Kenwood (just once), dressing in costume, taking his turn atop the dunk tank, promoting his beloved Oakland A’s – it’s all in a day’s work.

“Most of all, I will miss the children, who over the past 23 years, have made Kenwood School a very special place for all of us,” said Bales. “I have loved their kindness, their sense of community and their desire to make the world a better place. Kenwood School will always have a special place in my heart. I am so grateful for the outstanding teaching staff, the parents who have supported this little country school, and the overwhelming support and appreciation of our community.”

“Personally,” said Alexander, “I will miss his sense of humor and his unwavering dedication to the kids. I love walking the campus with Bob, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when Bob calls them by name and adds a little personal comment of recognition. Every day is a gift to our kids.”

School officials will soon begin the process of finding a replacement for Bales, with the goal of having someone on board right after the end of the current school year in June of 2021.