By this point in the school year you’ve probably seen a new face on campus, talking to students and giving assembly presentations. This new addition to the Tam community is principal J.C. Farr. Farr started on July 1, taking over from interim principal David Brown. Before coming to Tam, he served as Assistant Principal of Menlo-Atherton High School. Prior to that he was Assistant Principal of Castro Valley High School as well as teacher and department chair in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
Farr felt that the small size of Tam and strong community involvement made this school a good match for him. “It’s a smaller high school, and this is my first time as a principal and I felt that it was a good match between my ideas and what was in place in the community,” Farr said.
“Community support is a very important part of the success of a school and so I felt that with my ideas and the community support that I would be able to strengthen what was already in place here and be creative in implementing my vision for a high school.”
Farr’s drive to become an administrator comes from his urge to give his students the best learning environment they can have. “[When] I was a teacher and when I was having conversations with veteran teachers they would tell me that you could only control what was in your four walls, and so I took that to heart,” Farr said. “I wanted to create the best learning environment possible but when I wanted to expand my influence…one of the ways I could do that was becoming an administrator.”
Farr’s mission for Tam’s environment is to create a balanced experience for students. “I want to be able to impact the student’s whole day. I believe in quality educational experiences and so I want [there] to be a balance between a rigorous academic environment, but also some things that are fun and memorable,” Farr said.
“I’m happy to be here, I’m excited about the opportunity to be the leader of this school, this campus,” Farr said. “It’s a wonderful community to be a part of and I really want to take what we have, grow it, and for it to become everything that we want it to be. For me it really is about the educational experience of our students, and wanting them to have something memorable in a positive way, because when you look back 30 years from now you’re going to remember your experiences from high school.”
Farr plans to be very visible and accessible to the students, whether it be visiting clubs, stopping by classrooms, or cheering at sports events. “I’m not the type of administrator that likes to hide behind a desk and stay in the office,” Farr said. “I want to be with my people, and so as much as possible if I can get out there and interact with students like at lunch time…just really being a part of all aspects of school.”
Farr said he will bring new insights to the table. “I believe that we all benefit from diversity, and learning about different cultures,” Farr said.
I’m hoping to bring…my experience and my perspective to add to the perspectives that are already in place so that we can have a broader view of the world and really consider the experiences of various people. And so I bring a love for all people and students to the table, and I’m here to ensure the success of all students, and so with that I believe that groups that have been marginalized may find a connection, but I am here for all students, regardless of race and background….I want to create opportunities for people to feel comfortable voicing their experiences and create an educational environment where all those voices and all those experiences are valued. And so, I’m hoping that people see my race, and understand that yes I am a black man and a proud black man, but I’m here for all students.”
Farr’s emphasis on community is exemplified in his email sign off, “In the Spirit of Tam-unity.”
“Tam-unity is a play on the words Tamalpais and Community,” Farr said. “I really wanted to focus on building community here at Tam, and I thought that Tam-unity blended those together. At Tamalpais we are one united community.”
Farr said he is always willing to listen. “[I want them to know that] my door is always open, that they can always feel free to come and talk to me and that I will always listen to whatever anyone has to say or offer,” Farr said. “I just want people to know that I’m approachable, I think that’s one of the most important things to communicate. That whatever it is that’s going on you can talk to me about it. We may not agree, we may not see eye to eye, I may say yes, I may say no, but the one thing for sure is that you will be heard.”