Martin leaves Wilson after six years as Principal


Emily Mulderig and Joanna Chait

After serving six years as the Principal of Wilson High School, Kimberly Martin is leaving to take a promotion within DCPS. Assistant Principal Gregory Bargeman will act as the Interim Principal.  

Martin will serve as the Instructional Superintendent of Cluster VIII, which includes Wilson and ten other schools. 

Sometime next school year—likely early in 2022—a vacancy for Wilson’s principal will open and eligible candidates will be vetted. According to DCPS policy, candidates must follow a standard search and interview process to be considered for the role of principal, so any immediate replacements must be interim principals. 

However, Bargeman’s position as Interim Principal does not prohibit him from eventually being considered for Principal. “It’s possible Mr. Bargeman [could] be one of those candidates,” Martin said.

Martin’s new role of Instructional Superintendent was recently vacated, so she took the job recently—just a few days before announcing it on the last day of school. 

The decision to end her tenure at Wilson was a difficult one.“It’s not like I wanted to leave Wilson,” Martin said. 

“I was afraid that my colleagues and I might have an Instructional Superintendent who didn’t understand DCPS or wasn’t aligned with our values. As one of the more veteran principals in the cluster, it just made sense.”

In an email to Wilson families, Martin cited the power of the school community as the inspiration to take her new job.

“It is this spirit of community that I will take with me to my next position, as I advocate for students across the city and ensure that every student grows up with an involved and caring community, and every student can achieve their childhood dreams,” she said.

As an Instructional Superintendent, Martin will supervise principals, guiding them in the decisions required to run a school, such as developing a comprehensive school plan, instructional improvement, enrollment, and facilities.

On Thursday, June 24, Martin held a staff meeting over Microsoft Teams where she announced her promotion to Wilson faculty. During the meeting, she assured staff members that her new job will keep her frequently involved in the school.

Many teachers unmuted to wish Martin well, share personal anecdotes about how she has affected their lives and careers, and thank her for her leadership through the pandemic and distance learning.

In her email, Martin mentioned her connections with various members of the school community. “The ongoing public health crisis makes this farewell much harder since I cannot say goodbye in person to all our amazing teachers, students, and families,” she said. 

Martin’s time at Wilson has seen a growing student body, the decision to change the school’s name, more than a year of online learning, and initiatives implemented to improve diversity and inclusion. 

When asked about how Wilson has changed under her leadership, she replied, “I think we really normalized discussions about race.”

Former LSAT Chair Sam Frumkin said in an email that Martin’s legacy makes him proud to be a Wilson parent. “[Martin] has been a voice for equity, striving to make the school’s excellent academic and extracurricular offerings accessible to the entire student body,” Frumkin continued. 

Kadesha Bonds has served as the longtime Mass Media and Communications teacher and HAM Academy Lead at Wilson and is leaving to take a position at Coolidge next year. “[Martin] brought a passion for social justice and exposing racism within education,” Bonds said in an email. “She made a great impact on the school community and I will miss her. I’m excited to see the work she will do in her new position.” 

Social studies teacher Clarence Alston said in an email that Martin “fostered a spirit of camaraderie among all of Wilson’s staff from teachers to custodians” and “courageously addressed the widening achievement gap at Wilson.”

“In my 20 years in DCPS,” Alston continued,  “I have not worked under or been mentored by a more committed and competent leader as Ms. Martin.”

Martin is among many faculty members departing this school year and is leaving at a transitional time, as students are expected to fully return to the building in the fall with two classes of students who have hardly been inside.

In an email, Bargeman said he is “currently working with the administrative team to establish the goals for next year.”

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for us to change the school culture really, in any kind of way that we want,” said Martin. “And since Mr. Bargeman is the master of school culture, who better to lead the school through this dramatic change?”

Martin said that she’ll miss the energy of Wilson and the evolving relationships that come with a constantly changing community. “I don’t think there’s any other job that’s like being a principal, and there’s definitely no other school like Wilson.” •