As a principal, Crystal always sought ways to engage members of the community to help students, she worked with her colleagues to establish partnerships with many organizations including but not limited to: The Construction Exchange of Western New York and The Construction Industry Foundation Inc.; Erie County Community Action Organization; The Academic Talent Search Program of Canisius College; the Liberty Partnership Program of Buffalo State College and with the assistance of the district's Career and Technical Education Department, McKinley has articulations agreements with Erie County Community College and Niagara Community College as well as partnerships with Alfred State, Montante Solar & Montante Construction, LLC; Compliance & Administrative Services of New York (CASNY), as one of the district's NYS P-Tech Schools. Most recently, Principal Barton extended McKinley's 21st Century partnership with the Community Action Organization of Erie County, to include a McKinley-Buffalo Leadership Academy for male students to encourage and assist the students in planning for their futures and finding positive ways to accomplish their goals of entering college or the workforce after graduation. These partnerships helped to increase McKinley's graduation rate to 84% in 2017, helping to return the school to "Good Standing" status, as it had been for most of the thirty one years she has been there.
Since 2002, Principal Barton has led her school and the district in the preservation and teaching of African and African American History and other multi-cultural educational experiences. She and her staff brought speakers from around the country to McKinley and the community, to conference with students. Speakers such as: Ruby Bridges; Kenneth B. Morrison, great- great- grandson of Booker T. Washington and the great- great- great grandson of Frederick Douglass; the great -great-great nephew of Harriet Tubman, who lives in Buffalo; Dr. Maya Rockeymore; The Honorable Dorian Gadsen; Gail Deculus-Johnson, Sheila Evans-Tranum; representatives from the United Nations, and so many more.
Principal Barton has always been a leader in Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning. McKinley High School, under Principal Barton's leadership, hosted the first, city-wide African American History Quiz Bowl for students and teachers; hosted the first African American History Pageant; hosted an Annual Legacy Luncheon so that the students would learn firsthand of WNY Legends; hosted a WNY Gospel Hall of Fame; hosted an Annual "Teachable Moment in African American History" and other activities focused on Multicultural and Diversity of the various ethnic groups in the school. She envisioned the establishment of an interactive Black Memorabilia Museum that students and the community could use in the years to come, and has been working hard to realize that dream via the conference exhibits held each year.