New principal takes over at Barnard Mandarin Magnet Elementary School September 29, 2022

Kingsley Chao

Kinglsey Chao moved from New York to San Diego in August to become the principal of Barnard Mandarin Magnet Elementary School. Chao said he and his older brother are “first generation Chinese Americans.” His mother is originally from Shanghai and his father is from Beijing, China.

Chao grew up and attended New York and Long Island public schools. He credits key teachers from his elementary, middle, and high school years for his interest and passion in music, the arts, and performance. “Through 15 years-plus of piano lessons, and countless visits to Broadway stages, music has shaped my perspective on life and fueled my creativity,” he said.

Chao graduated with a bachelor of arts in music from Stony Brook University. “I always knew I wanted to become an educator and inspire students the way my teachers did in me,” he said. After graduating from Hunter College on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with a master’s of science in childhood education, he began his teaching career.

Fifth grade was his first teaching assignment at The Audubon School in Washington Heights. As each year passed, he sharpened his skills as a teacher and stretched his perspective by taking on multiple roles within the school. These experiences, along with encouragement from colleagues lead Chao to return to Hunter College to pursue graduate course work and his administrative license.

Six years as an assistant principal provided Chao with multiple experiences as an instructional coach and supervising K-5 programs; including special education, the arts program, Dual Immersion programs as well as student council activities. “Just like some of my favorite characters from literacy and the stage, I knew there was more out there,” he said.

This summer he took a leap of faith, said goodbye to his family and friends on the East Coast, and accepted the principal position at Barnard Mandarin Magnet School.

Within his first few days as principal of Barnard Mandarin, he realized he had hit the jackpot. He was immersed in a school with an extremely supportive environment. “The culture of the school is filled with joy, life, and love,” Chao said. “There is a strong sense of collaboration among all the stakeholders.”

As Barnard Mandarin continues to grow, Chao’s vision is to continue creating a safe and equitable learning community that allows all students to take academic risks and engages them in rigorous discussions and content area writing to foster and develop language and knowledge.

Fun facts about Chao: He has hiked parts of the Great Wall of China; his favorite book is “Wonder,” by R.J. Palacio; he has seen the musical “Wicked” more than 15 times; his favorite quote is, “We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney.