Dr. Allison Harley took over as the new principal at Palmetto High School in mid July. Harley previously was at Parkway Middle School for two years. She has worked in many different types of schools, which Harley says was all preparation for becoming the principal at Palmetto.
“Palmetto is one of the flagship schools of the county,” she says. Her plan is to learn about Palmetto, the community and faculty and staff before making changes.
“Palmetto is not the type of school you come into and make blanket changes,” she says. “I’ll observe and get to know the community and the needs of the community and the school before we make big changes.”
Harley did have a transitional meeting with former principal Howard Weiner. She’s confident she can call upon his expertise at any time, since they are old friends. She says she has an open door policy and she’s looking forward to meeting students, parents and the community.
“I have already been in touch with members of the PTSA and I look forward to working with them,” Harley says.
Palmetto’s PTSA was pleased that Harley supports the Back to School at Bell’s program, which was jointly planned by the PTSAs at Palmetto Middle and Palmetto High.
Dr. Larry Feldman, the school board member for Palmetto says Harley is determined to continue the rich tradition of excellence that has always been synonymous with Palmetto.
“Her excitement, drive and vision are a great fit for the Pinecrest community and I think they’ll find she is prepared and planning for a real expansion of offerings in the very near future,” he says.
Harley says one of her goals is to increase the school’s technology programs. “We’re looking at the options there,” she says. “I think technology can enhance any educational program.”
Another option is Palmetto’s new Environmental Science Masters Academy, which already has 50 students enrolled. While Palmetto is adding an academy, it’s not going to change into an academy only school.
Harley says Palmetto is “an amazing comprehensive high school.” She believes in comprehensive high schools because they give students the ability to choose from a wide variety of programs. She likes a comprehensive high school for those students who aren’t ready to be tied to a major as they are at academy schools.
“If the student is really focused and the academy is there, it’s absolutely wonderful,” she says.
Even with all that Palmetto offers, there is still room for more. Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner says Harley has the experience and leadership qualities to maintain Palmetto’s educational excellence. Lerner says she expects Harley to engage the community in supporting the school and its students.
Hardy was born and raised in Miami- Dade Country and grew up in Miami Springs. She attended Miami-Dade schools and went on to Florida International University where she earned a degree in secondary English and then a specialist degree in school psychology.
“I always knew I wanted to work with teenagers. I can’t even imagine doing anything else,” she says.
Harley became a teacher in 1989, spending seven years as a classroom teacher, starting at Homestead Sr. High and then moving to Southridge High after Hurricane Andrew. When her daughter was born, she took a couple of years off to take care of the baby and get her doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
When Hardy returned to the school system, she worked at J.R.E. Lee Opportunity School. Later, she became an assistant principal at Highland Oaks Middle School. She also spent two years as assistant principal at Biscayne Gardens Elementary. She’s also been a temporary principal at Merrick Educational Center and the principal at Robert Renick, a special educational K-12 school.