Mon10202014

Schools

LASD welcomes new administrators

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees is scheduled to approve the appointments of two new principals, an assistant superintendent for curriculum and another district office position Tuesday.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Alyssa Gallagher will transition into a new district position that focuses on strategic innovation projects and community partnerships. A private donation to the district will fund the part-time post.

Almond School Principal Nancy Davis will replace Gallagher as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. After returning from a leave of absence, Davis served as principal at Almond for two years. Previously, she was principal at Covington School for three years.

Erika Benadom will succeed Davis as principal at Almond next year. Benadom is currently principal at Paradise Valley Elementary School in the Morgan Hill Unified School District. Prior to her stint as principal, Benadom served as a vice principal at School City, a student performance database company, and as director of technology for the Lennox School District.

“(Benadom) is a dynamic presence,” said Superintendent Jeff Baier. “She has solid experience in leading a very involved community. She is fluent in Spanish, which will serve her well at Almond School.”

Baier added that Benadom said she is very excited to come to Los Altos.

“We are thrilled to have her as part of our team,” he said. “She will add great value at Almond and will bring leadership to the district administrative team as well.”

The Gardner Bullis School community experienced its share of leadership changes this year.

After Principal Erica Gilbert departed at the beginning of the school year, the district hired Courtney Cadwell to take the helm. Mid-year, Cadwell took a leave of absence and retired former district Principal Linda Eckhols stepped in, serving through the end of April. Gardner Bullis kindergarten teacher Kate Goines is currently serving as interim principal through the end of the school year.

In the fall, Katie Kinnaman is slated to take over as principal of Gardner Bullis. Formerly a math and science lead teacher in the Palo Alto Unified School District, Kinnaman’s career in education began in 2005 and includes positions such as summer school administrator, second-grade teacher and math and science teacher at the junior-high level.

“(Kinnaman) has been watching the innovative education we have been delivering in the district and was excited to join the team,” Baier said. “She has a strong background in math and science, which will be great for our community. She has a fantastic knowledge of effective instruction and will be very valuable to the Gardner Bullis community.”

The principal-selection process included input at each school from panels of parents, teachers and administrators who interviewed the candidates.

The incoming principals are scheduled to meet with their new school communities before the end of the school year. Kinnaman is slated to visit Gardner Bullis May 31 and Benadom will visit Almond June 7.

“These are two terrific women who I think will thrive in the environment we have here,” Baier said. “During the interview process, they both spoke passionately about students and learning – which is what we are all about.”

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