ANAHEIM--The Board of Trustees has unanimously approved the hiring of a seven top leaders who will head up guidance and student services, plus serve as assistant principals at five campuses.
The new director of guidance and student services is Jamie Millan. Ms. Millan is taking over for Tricia Lückeroth, following her resignation. Meanwhile, Sycamore Junior High School welcomes David Okamoto and Fatinah Judeh as their new assistant principals. At Savanna High School, Charles Ku is the new assistant principal, while Dr. Patrick Guggino joins the administrative ranks at Kennedy High School. Celeste Kruger is now a permanent part of the Orangeview Junior High School family, moving officially into the AP role from an interim position, while Dr. Esther Cho moves from serving as an interim assistant principal at Orangeview to assistant principal at Dale Junior High School.
Ms. Millan has been an assistant principal at Savanna High School since 2013. During her tenure, she has been on the front line of implementing the P21 (Partnership for 21st Century Learning) framework. She also is a trainer-of-trainers for the nationally recognized “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” behavioral intervention program, which has had great success in building understanding between students and the adults who serve them.
Dr. Jaron Fried, assistant superintendent of educational services, who was principal at Ball Junior High School when Ms. Millan served as an assistant principal there, endorsed her moving into her new role.
“Jamie is an incredible person, who believes in students’ capacity for learning,” Dr. Fried said. “Her ability to bring out the best in others, and her unwavering commitment to students and staff, is apparent in her leadership style.”
Ms. Millan has worked in public education since 2000, starting her career as an English teacher in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. She was honored with a Teacher of the Year award, as well as an Inspirational Teacher award. She then moved into an assistant principal position in the Hacienda La Puente school district before coming to the AUHSD with a desire to serve a larger community.
Ms. Millan earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University and her master’s degree in educational leadership from Azusa Pacific University.
The rigorous process for selecting the new leaders includes advertising internally and externally for candidates. For the position of assistant principal, there were more than 140 applicants.
“It was an outstanding pool,” said Board President Annemarie Randle-Trejo. “Thanks to our superintendent, AUHSD is branded as a destination district.”
“This is an exceptional group of leaders, who believe in kids and communities,” added Superintendent Michael Matsuda. “It’s very important that our leaders are aligned with the purpose and philosophy of the District. They understand the instructional shift for STEAM, Common Core, and innovation. They operate with a moral compass and integrity, and employ relational capital. They are really smart people who will help solidify the teams at the sites.”
The assistant principals bring varied backgrounds to their roles.
Before coming to the AUHSD as an assistant principal at Sycamore, Mr. Okamoto served for nearly a decade as a science teacher and athletic trainer at Glendora High School, where he was selected as a Teacher of the Year. He worked for a decade as a youth pastor before beginning his career in education.
Mr. Okamoto has a bachelor’s degree in physical science and a master of divinity degree from Azusa Pacific University. He also has a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Phoenix and a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, Fullerton.
"I have the drive and passion to help others achieve success, and I can't wait to become a member of the Sycamore team," Mr. Okamoto said.
Joining Mr. Okamoto at Sycamore is Ms. Judeh. She began her career as a paraeducator before going on to serve as a teacher for ACCESS, the alternative education program overseen by the Orange County Department of Education. She taught several subjects for 6th through 12th grade students. From there, Ms. Judeh worked as program support assistant, serving as family community liaison, and then as a program specialist. In the specialist role, she utilized her multilingual skills--she is fluent in Arabic and Spanish--to develop curriculum for students in the English learner program at ACCESS.
Ms. Judeh received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her master’s in educational leadership from the University of California, Los Angeles.
“As an assistant principal, I will embrace my responsibility to advocate on behalf of students, parents, and the Sycamore community to engage each other in the shared mission of preparing our students to succeed,” Ms. Judeh said.
Meanwhile, the new Savanna AP, Mr. Ku, began his career in education teaching GED preparation at the Alameda County Department of Education for seven years. He then served as a social science teacher at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale. In 2012, he became an assistant principal at Leigh High School in San Jose, leading departments in curriculum development and assisting in the transition to the new state standards.
Mr. Ku, who speaks Spanish and Mandarin, acquired his bachelor’s degree in mass communications studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received two master’s degrees in education, from UCLA and San Jose State University.
Joining the administrative team at Kennedy is Dr. Guggino, who has been in education since 1997 and is a National Board Certified English teacher. He taught English, journalism, and film and literature at Charter Oak High School in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, at the same time serving as a beginning teacher support provider and master teacher for students at California State University, Fullerton. Most recently, Dr. Guggino worked as dean of students for La Mirada High School, successfully creating a student-centered campus culture. Dr. Guggino attained his bachelor’s degree in English and his master’s degree in education from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He also has his Ph.D. in education, specializing in curriculum and instruction, from UC Riverside.
“I believe in creating a team-based approach with parents, teachers, administrators, and the community, to help students reach their greatest potential,” Dr. Guggino said.
The final two newly appointed assistant principals are already members of the AUHSD family. Dale’s new AP, Dr. Esther Cho, began her career in public education in 2004 as a teacher at John Muir Middle School in Los Angeles. She joined the AUHSD in 2008 as a science teacher at Dale Junior High School, before moving to South Junior High School, where she served as science teacher and Title I coordinator for five years. In 2015, Dr. Cho moved to Orangeview, serving again as a science teacher and Title I coordinator, in addition to interim assistant principal.
During her AUHSD tenure, she has been praised for her dedication and commitment to making a difference in students’ lives. Dr. Cho, who speaks Spanish and Korean, has actively embraced 21st century learning and has facilitated a STEAM focus throughout the District.
“I am grateful to my former and current principals, who have entrusted me with opportunities and tasks to build my leadership capacities,” Dr. Cho said. “I have learned the importance of building relationships and capturing not only students’ hearts, but the hearts of staff, parents, and community members as well.”
Dr. Cho received her master’s degree in education from UCLA and her doctorate in K-12 leadership from USC.
Meanwhile, Celeste Krueger started her AUHSD career in 2001 as a speech language pathologist. Before then, she worked in private industry in various speech language pathologist roles. In 2014, Ms. Krueger became a department chair, overseeing the speech language pathologists, and worked as an interim program specialist in 2015, before moving into the interim assistant principal role at Orangeview in the fall of 2015. (In 2015, she also served for several months in the interim role of coordinator of special youth services, while recruiting was taking place.)
“Celeste has made a big impact at Orangeview in the short time she has been here and we are delighted she is now a permanent member of our administrative team,” said Principal Robert Saldivar.
Ms. Krueger has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in communicative disorders from the University of Missouri, Columbia.