I am thrilled to begin my tenure as Superintendent of Soquel Union Elementary School District (SUESD). There is no place I would rather be as I start my 27th year in public education. I have been made to feel very welcomed by all the staff and community members I have met thus far. Please allow me to tell you a little about myself personally and professionally.
I was born in Saginaw, Michigan. My family moved to Lakewood, CA in the late 70's and then settled in what was then the dairy town of Chino, CA by the early 80's. I graduated from Chino's Don Lugo High School in 1986. I received my bachelor's degree (Liberal Studies, Credential Option) from Cal Poly Pomona University in 1990 and my master's degree (Education) from The Claremont Graduate University in 1992.
My wife Elizabeth and I just celebrated our 15-year Anniversary. We have one child, our six-year-old daughter, Ava, who is going into second grade. My wife is a teacher too so education is of the upmost importance to us. Elizabeth most recently taught 4th grade at Los Olivos School. Prior to that she taught several different grades in Ontario-Montclair School District including several years teaching Kindergarten. Our little family is looking forward to this new adventure together.
Professionally, throughout my 26-year career as a public educator, I have been a classroom teacher, teacher on special assignment, assistant principal, principal, principal on special assignment, director, and Superintendent/Principal. I have served in one of the largest K-8 systems in California (Ontario-Montclair) and one of the smallest (Vista Del Mar). These experiences have served as crucibles of learning in preparation for this newest leadership position. Along the way I have found that collaboration with staff, parents, and community is the most meaningful, effective and rewarding part of educating our youth.
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Soquel Union Elementary School District is very fortunate to have a long standing tradition where our community works together to create exciting programs for all students. During the past few years we have strengthened our academic programs in the areas of Art, Music, Project-Based Learning and 21st Century Instruction. We are passionate about providing every child with the opportunity to reach his or her highest learning potential. Here is a brief overview of our terrific schools.
Main Street School
One of the strengths of Main Street School is their staff's ability to seek different levels of instruction to benefit the educational program for all students. Main Street School is leading the way in creating opportunities for teachers to specialize in areas like Math, Language Arts and Science. It takes a tremendous amount of collaboration and a willingness to invest a significant amount of time to be able to specialize as a Science teacher for all fifth grade students. It is exciting to observe the unique learning environment that occurs when teachers are able to specialize.
New Brighton Middle School
Our middle school is dynamic because the staff has been able to balance academic rigor in an environment that is rich in nurturing the adolescent child. When you visit New Brighton you will quickly become aware of the wonderful interactions that takes place between student to student, adult to adult and student to adult. The school flows with positive energy and the excellent educators are able to provide a very demanding academic program for all students.
Opal Cliffs School
Our Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program begins its 3rd year at Opal Cliffs School. It is without question that the TK program at Opal Cliffs School is fantastic. We created a school design that embraces early education at so many levels. The key to our wonderful TK program lies in the staff who are experts in the area of early childhood education. They have developed a program that centers on engagement and exploration for all students. The happiness that surrounds this program is a joy to observe.
Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School
The rich interaction that is shared between all staff members at Santa Cruz Gardens has enabled this school to create a wonderful inclusion program that is highly supported throughout the community. It is absolutely terrific to support various teaching models that are tailored for the students at Santa Cruz Gardens. The strong sense of a united philosophy in educating all students is to be commended.
Soquel Elementary School
The excellent staff at Soquel Elementary School has committed itself to receiving some of the highest professional training offered to educators today. It is most impressive to be a member of a staff where decisions regarding curriculum and instruction are embraced and aligned (K-5) with every educator at the school. The transformation of the instructional program has been led by this highly talented and trained staff. The collaboration to improve the instructional program among staff members is exceptional.