Rosemary McAtee Keeps It Real

New co-principal talks about her past, plans for Fremont

Journalism students held a press conference with new co-principal Rosemary McAtee on Aug. 31, 2016.
Journalism students held a press conference with new co-principal Rosemary McAtee on Aug. 31, 2016. Photo by: Taijiah Smith

When Rosemary McAtee first interviewed at Fremont High School, she didn’t think she would receive the position as co-principal. She took off to Panama for a vacation and it was there she found out she got the job.

As one of two new co-principals sharing the role of administrator this fall, she finds high school more challenging than Fred T. Korematsu Academy where she both taught and served as principal for three years.

She watches out for students to make sure they get to class and checks for things happening on campus but those activities take away from planning out the school day and getting the school budget on the right track. Some nights she works until one or two a.m. to catch up on her duties.

McAtee said she leads by supporting other leaders. Eric DuBois, the case manager for tenth and eleventh graders, said she takes a non-judgmental leadership approach and assists the faculty in ways that they need.

He also said she smiles a lot.

“You can tell she wants to be here,” DuBois said. “She seems like a very warm, caring person, man! . . . and cool. I’m glad she’s here.”

McAtee tells journalism students about her experience in high school.
McAtee tells journalism students about her experience in high school. Photo by: Taijah Smith

Her previous life experience motivates her to keep going. McAtee was born in El Salvador and came to the United States as a young girl. She went through the educational system in Los Angeles, California where a few teachers helped her along the way.

“Because of them I am who I am today so I want to be that person for the students,” she said. “We don’t choose our parents. We don’t choose our life. We have tough, tough situations. Sometimes we just need that one person to push us out of that.”

McAtee had a hard time in high school. She was the quiet one in class that was only there to work. “I just barely made it by and it wasn’t until college that I was able to blossom,” she said.

Before coming to Oakland, McAtee was a teacher in Merced where the schools had more money but it wasn’t as diverse. She said Oakland’s strength is its diversity but a huge equity gap exists between the schools in the hills and the schools in the flat lands. “One of the things Fremont needs is money,” she said.

She wants to start a food pantry to serve the community and to increase parent involvement with the school. She has also been working with Oakland Community Organization, which is an organization for parents from different high schools that come together to make Oakland a better community and helps parents gain leadership skills.

McAtee’s biggest fear at Fremont is that she doesn’t know everyone’s name. At her previous school, she had relationships with students and she’s eager to have the same here.

One of her main goals as co-principal is to improve students reading level by encouraging them with awards for academic growth.