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Meet the new principal for FPG Bilingüe Elementary School

FPG principal Galassi Ferrer

Karen Galassi-Ferrer was appointed as the new principal of FPG Bilingue Elementary School at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Photo courtesy of Jeff Nash.

Karen Galassi-Ferrer was announced as the new principal for Frank Porter Graham Bilingüe Elementary on Nov. 21.

Currently serving as the school’s assistant principal, she is set to take the helm of the school when it reopens after winter break in January. This came after the current principal, Emily Bivins, announced plans to step down at the end of the Fall 2019 term

Galassi-Ferrer has many ties to the community she serves in as a native of Chapel Hill and former student in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district. 

She said as a white person, she had many privileges that others were perhaps not afforded because of the racial or cultural group to which they belonged, and she felt obliged to change that narrative. 

“I realized that, as I moved forward, I also had responsibilities in the work to change many of the systems and create many more just opportunities for many members of our community,” she said.

Jeff Nash, executive director of community relations for CHCCS, said her connection with the community and fluency in Spanish were some of the major reasons she was tapped for the job.

“She’s forward-thinking, she’s very knowledgeable in structural practices and she’s got great leadership qualities,” Nash said. “But above all of those things, she’s very good at building relationships, and that’s an important part of a principal’s job.”

This sentiment was echoed by Superintendent Pam Baldwin, who said the new principal was “a gifted educator and a strong administrator” and “simply a great fit for (FPG Bilingüe).” 

Galassi-Ferrer said she knew very early on that teaching was a calling for her, and she has always been very passionate about education. This passion came coupled with a love for the Spanish language and Latin American culture, which she said developed early on in middle and high school.

Her work began at East Chapel Hill High School, where she taught Spanish and AVID — a program found across school districts to provide support for elementary, middle and high school students with the potential to become first-generation college students. 

While there, she created a Latino Student Support Team to act as a liaison between faculty and Spanish-speaking families. She also conducted professional development for teachers to help them support students of color and encourage their enrollment in honors and Advanced Placement courses.

After receiving her Master of School Administration at UNC, she served as the assistant principal at Morris Grove Elementary for three years and later took the same position at FPG Bilingüe. 

“Many students who I’ve taught and kept in contact with walk through the doors of FPG Bilingüe now as parents and entrust me, entrust our staff, with the educational, social and emotional well being of their children," she said. "It kind of feels full circle.”

Galassi-Ferrer will assume her position and welcome students and parents back to FPG Bilingüe as principal on Jan. 6, following their winter break.


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