Being an administrator was never something Wendy Barajas strived to achieve. She enjoyed the classroom atmosphere, teaching music for nearly eight years at Greensboro Academy and Forsyth Academy.
But when an opportunity to become a middle school dean arrived, she looked at it as her chance to broaden her reach. That feeling turned out to be right, as she spent five years as a middle school dean and 10 years as a principal at Forsyth.
Barajas took the next step in her administrative journey after the 2021-22 school year in becoming a director of school quality. Most of her career has been at Forsyth, more than 20 years. Now her portfolio of schools will take her outside Winston-Salem to even more National Heritage Academies schools in North Carolina, including Johnston Charter Academy, Matthews Charter Academy, Peak Charter Academy, PreEminent Charter Academy, Queens Grant Community School, Wake Forest Charter Academy, and Winterville Charter Academy.
“I realized that there were up and coming leaders at (Forsyth) who needed to be able to be in leadership positions, and I was the one who was holding them back,” she said. “For me, I really started to look again at where I can make an impact. I knew that I was able to make my impact even bigger across the state of North Carolina and for me that really was exciting.”
With seven leaders at seven schools to oversee, Barajas has focused on building relationships before addressing needs such as NHA’s focus on ABCDs (attrition, behavior, chronic absenteeism, and development).
“I just wanted to listen, I wanted to learn about the people that I would supporting,” she said. “I wanted to see the needs that each school had that I also wanted to develop relationships.”
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National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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