Assistant Principal Sarah Landry looks to make a difference at Dougherty

Kavin Kumaravel and Sraavya Sambara

Assistant Principal Sarah Landry flashes us a bright smile through the window of her office while simultaneously conversing with a teacher and answering a phone call. After two phone calls and a couple of apologetic smiles, Landry turns to us, presses her elbows on the desk and tells us that she’s delighted to talk to us. The clear hustle of her new job in no way dampens her enthusiasm, and within minutes, she’s casually chatting about her life, Dougherty and making a meaningful impact on students.

While a soothing Dave Matthews tune plays in the background, Landry describes her Bay Area childhood in San Jose and her experimentation with various majors in college. Landry initially studied journalism at the University of South California, and then entered law school to become an attorney. However, she soon realized that her passion lay in education and decided to pursue a career in it. She quickly earned her teaching credential and started working as a special education teacher in Los Angeles.

Although she enjoyed her work in Los Angeles, she returned to the Bay Area to continue her career and raise her family. After a brief job in Milpitas, Landry spent the next six years working in Los Gatos schools as a teacher.

She loved being in the classroom and collaborating with students every day, but she still felt like there was more she could do.

In order to maximize her impact on students, Landry decided that the next natural step for her would be to become an administrator, but she was unsure about the relative lack of student interaction an administrative job would mean.

“Every year I would say, ‘Okay, this is the year I’m going to leave. I mean, next year’s the year I’m going to leave and I’m going start moving in that direction next year.’ It’s hard because you become an educator because you want to make a difference in kids’ lives and you realize – if I’m administrator, I might not be able to do that,” Landry said.

But ultimately, Landry decided to become an administrator. She began pursuing her master’s degree and administrative credentials at Santa Clara University and started to look for an openings in the Bay Area.

Dougherty Valley seemed like the perfect opportunity, and she was thrilled to accept the job.

She cheerfully described Dougherty Valley: “We have all of the key pieces in place to make sure students have a healthy education environment: we have counselors, we have teachers we have who care, we have administrators who want to support all that. And not every place is like that. Not every place runs so smoothly. Not every place has such awesome kids.”

After settling in, Landry began to explore unique ways in which she could help DV.

Due to her unique background as a Google educator, Landry feels especially equipped to enhance the technological aspect of curriculum across the school, particularly in educating the teachers on campus about various advanced functions of the G-Suite platform.

Beyond the technical facets of her qualifications, Landry believes that one of her best qualities as an educator is her empathy for students. She recognizes that in order to thrive, kids need an education system tailored to support them, and so sees all encounters with students as chances to be there for them as someone whose sole purpose is to help.

“When I’m in a difficult situation with a student who’s made not the best choice, [I have been able] to connect with that student in a way that’s not about discipline and is really about just care and concern for the young person that he/she is.”

This passion for deeply connecting with students translates into initiatives Landry hopes to be a part of. When talking about the cloud of stress surrounding Dougherty, Landry’s face became etched with concern, and she asked promptly began to propose tangible solutions. Of the administrative team’s stress reducing initiatives already underway, Landry is particularly looking forward to a wellness day for students.

From her first day at Dougherty, Sarah Landry could tell that Dougherty was a unique place filled with passionate teachers and eager students. As an assistant principal, Landry hopes to make a difference in Dougherty community and fulfill her personal educational philosophy: “I want to help every child know how valuable and powerful they are in our world.”