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Hart School District Announces New Assistant Principals

Posted: August 8, 2013 12:30 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2013 12:30 p.m.

Two Hart School District teachers have been promoted to junior high school assistant principal positions and one additional junior high assistant principal position has been filled with a newcomer to the Santa Clarita Valley. The district’s Governing Board approved the appointments at its Aug. 7 meeting, and the new positions are expected to be effective immediately.

All three hold their administrative credentials and have been exceptional leaders on their respective campuses. Hart District employees Josh McDonald and Fayanne Bakoo are looking forward to their new assignments, as is Raul D. Olivas, who comes to the Hart District from LAUSD where he held various positions since 2003.

Josh McDonald has been assigned to La Mesa Junior High School and has most recently served as a school psychologist at Saugus High School and has previously served as a summer school administrative intern and Saugus High and Sierra Vista Junior High Schools. McDonald holds a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University, and two Masters of Art degrees in counseling and educational leadership and policy studies from Cal State Northridge. McDonald is a licensed educational psychologist and marriage and family therapist. He has previously worked for the Saugus Union School District and taught social studies in the Scottsdale Unified School District. McDonald has held leadership positions including school psychologist department co-chair; professional development team leader; WASC focus group leader; STAR testing co-coordinator and is a member of the Hart District training team for special education instructional assistants. "I am overjoyed and honored to be joining the administrative ranks of the Hart District as an assistant principal,” McDonald said. “I plan on supporting the district's vision of student success and long standing tradition of excellence. I am very lucky to work with such committed students, parents, teachers and staff."

Fayanne Bakoo has been assigned to Rio Norte Junior High School and has worked for the Hart School District since 2004. Bakoo was most recently the math department chair at West Ranch High School, where she was also an administrative intern, intervention coordinator, mentor teacher, site rep for Project Prom and founding advisor for Wildcats Against Cancer. Prior to West Ranch, she was the cheer advisor, freshman and sophomore class advisor, and involved with staff development on literacy and CAHSEE preparation classes at Hart High School. Bakoo holds her Bachelor of Science in math and her Masters in Educational Administration from Cal State Bakersfield. She has held leadership positions including academic intervention coordinator; coordination of CAHSEE and STAR tests and professional development leader. Bakoo has been a leader for West Ranch and the District in preparation, training and testing of Common Core State Standards, set to be implemented in the 2014/15 school year. “I am proud to be joining the administrative team at Rio Norte Junior High School,” Bakoo said. “I am greatly looking forward to working with the faculty and students of Rio Norte to see continued growth in student learning and student achievement. It is an honor to be a River Hawk and to serve the families of our community.”

Raul D. Olivas has been assigned to Sierra Vista Junior High School and is new to the Hart School District. Olivas served in several positions at Cochran Middle School in Los Angeles since 2003 including, math teacher and department chair, dean of students and categorical program advisor: Title 1 coordinator and bilingual coordinator. Prior to LAUSD, he was a math teacher in El Paso Texas. Olivas hold his Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies in math from the University of Texas at El Paso and his Masters in Educational Administration from National University in San Diego. Olivas has held leadership positions including LAUSD programs such as Kids Mastering Math; professional development leader; budget development; programs for English Learners and curriculum development. He has also previously coached boys’ football and basketball. "I am extremely excited and elated to be joining the Hart School District family!” Olivas said. “As an educator of 15 years, I believe that through collaboration and commitment by the entire school community, we will reach our goals of providing students with a high-level rigorous education."

Two positions have been restored following state budget cuts several years ago, which caused the district to reduce assistant principal positions. Proposition 30 funding has provided the opportunity to restore to two full assistant principal positions on each of the six junior high schools in the Hart School District. For several years, junior high schools have been operating with 1.5 junior high principals, which equated to three assistant principals dividing their time between two schools. The third position opened following the retirement of Barbara Irwin in the spring, who worked 50% at La Mesa Junior High School and was 50% English Language Development (ELD) administrator. The ELD position has been filled by Shellie Holcombe, who previously taught English and English Language Arts at Canyon High School.

With this restoration, several other assistant principals have been reassigned this year. All principals remain in their previous assignments as well as most assistant principals. Here are the additional changes of assignments for current assistant principals: Catherine Nicholas from Rancho Pico Junior High School to Arroyo Seco Junior High School; Pam Thompson from Canyon High School to Placerita Junior High School; Chad Powell from Arroyo Seco Junior High School / Rio Norte Junior High School to Rancho Pico Junior High School; Sherry Rickenbach from Placerita Junior High School / Rancho Pico Junior High School to Canyon High School and Brenda Bennett from Sierra Vista Junior High School to Rancho Pico Junior High School.

All Hart District schools start on Aug. 15.


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