Gabriel Fredman, born and raised in Berkeley, was recently hired as one of Berkeley High School’s (BHS) vice principals. A BHS graduate from the class of 1997, Fredman said his deep ties to the Berkeley community have inspired his dedication to building a collaborative and unified BHS environment.
Fredman began his career in education in 2001, working as a sports coordinator for under-resourced schools with a nonprofit then called “Sports for Kids.” He later worked in his local county’s juvenile justice department in Oregon as a teacher for incarcerated students and students on parole or probation.
“I was really passionate about supporting a positive transition once they were released from the system,” Fredman said.
After moving back to the Bay Area, Fredman worked all over Oakland with targeted academic intervention, taught at Arroyo High School, and in 2013, began work at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley. This eventually led to several administrative positions, and finally a role as K-8 culture and climate coach for all eleven elementary and three middle schools within Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD).
“It’s a unique opportunity to come back and reconnect with a lot of former students from King, and it’s been really inspiring,” Fredman said. “I’ve been feeling for the BHS community which seems to have been struggling with some ups and downs this year, and I’m excited to be part of the solution.”
For this year, Fredman’s new role will be more focused on special events and working on campus culture than the traditional vice principal role. However, he said supporting BHS in any way possible will be his main focus. Fredman explained, “I want to see BHS be the best place it can be and work well for everyone. I think there’s always room to improve how people feel at school … and for students and staff to be a positive community together.”
Fredman emphasized, “I want to partner with [students] because I don’t think I can do it alone. It’s your school, so how can we work together to make it the best possible place for everyone?”
Thom Reinhardt joined Berkeley High School (BHS) last semester as a vice principal. Reinhardt has worked within various school settings and is a self-described passionate believer in educational equity.
Reinhardt worked as a science teacher for over a decade, and later got into administration at the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD). Recently, he finished his doctorate in education for leadership and equity at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and after several roles in the BUSD central office, was hired as a BHS vice principal.
“I’m happy to be here and happy to help, and I hope that I get to meet most of the community here,” Reinhardt said.
For the time being, his role will primarily be focused on student engagement, mandatory testing for COVID-19, and academics. Reinhardt said keeping students interested and excited about school is something he wants to prioritize.
“I haven’t been on a school site working for a number of years, so it’s nice to be back meeting students and talking to them,” Reinhardt said. “I’ve ended up talking with a lot of students who are less engaged than others, and they’re pretty insightful in terms of what’s important to them for school.”
Reinhardt said he is interested in evaluating the systems that make up BHS and education in general. This is why he is also prioritizing looking into how the school experience differs for some students and how they can best be supported.
“I think about systems and evaluation of systems a lot, so everything from how the principal and superintendent interact with the school to how students engage in their individual learning is important to me,” Reinhardt said. “Semester one grades are about to come out and it could be really informative to look at how that relates to students with [Individualized Education Programs] or students in marginalized racial groups to see if BHS is serving them as well as other students.”
Sustaining an inclusive and engaging school environment is something that Reinhardt is looking forward to. He said all students are welcome to reach out.
“I’m happy to talk to anybody that wants to talk about learning and school and what could make BHS a better place,” Reinhardt said.