Principal Spotlight: McKinley School Principal Dr. Charles Heaton

Dr. Charles Heaton. Photo courtesy PUSD

As a young boy listening to his grandfather’s repeated lectures about the importance of school, Charles Heaton did not fully comprehend how these ‘talks’ would shape his future. However, the theme of these conversations was made very clear to him: As the oldest grandson, he would be the first in his family to attend and graduate from college.

“As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be an educator, said McKinley Principal Charles Heaton, Ph.D. “When my sister wanted me to play school with her, I was the principal even at eight years old.”

Heaton credits his grandfather and mother for teaching him to approach school differently than his young peers and to develop his leadership skills. With their guidance, he made the connection between something he enjoyed and something he did well.

Today, Heaton’s leadership style is described as visionary. As Principal of McKinley School, he acknowledges that the last year was one of tremendous growth for everyone. The leadership team conducted a full review of McKinley’s protocols and procedures in order to ensure a safe school environment. Heaton noted the team’s ongoing commitment to student’s success and safety continues to be a high priority.

“We work hard to get to know every student and ensure they feel like they are a part of our school,” Heaton said. “We are committed to creating a safe place for everyone.”

United as “one team,” McKinley School has a shared vision of demonstrating excellence: to be a standout school and engage in cutting-edge educational practices for student success.

In order to achieve this shared vision, Heaton referenced the following proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Heaton celebrates the accomplishments of McKinley’s team of talented and hardworking educators. “It’s exciting to see that teachers are open to learning from one another,” he said. “I am proud to have personally experienced the positive influence of teachers who have been or are part of my teams. McKinley teachers continue to inspire me in my leadership role.”

Positive changes continue to be observed at MKS, including an array of upcoming pilot programs. Teachers have already begun changing their instructional approaches to increase student engagement in the areas of language arts and math. Classrooms are becoming more student-centered, and the rigor of academic instruction is on the rise.

“Together, we will serve students and the community through transparency and by building strong teams and trusting relationships.” ~Principal Heaton

As MKS continues to implement its shared vision for student success, Heaton reaffirmed that McKinley will continue to provide a collaborative learning environment that enables all students to reach their academic and artistic potential. He said, “Together, we will serve students and the community through transparency and by building strong teams and trusting relationships.”

Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), 351 S. Hudson Ave Pasadena, (626) 396-3600 or visit



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