Glynn Thompson, who in 18 months with the New Haven Unified School District has instilled a focus on literacy as the primary means for improving student achievement, has been named Chief Academic Officer, Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi announced today, after the Board of Education approved the appointment Tuesday night.
The Board also approved the appointment of veteran District educator Lisa Metzinger as principal at Kitayama Elementary School and the promotion of Scott Pizani, the District’s Coordinator of Prevention and Intervention Services, to Director of Elementary Education. To fill most of Mr. Pizani’s duties, James Logan High School Principal Don Montoya has accepted a reassignment to the Cabello Student Support Center, where he also will serve as principal of the Cabello Community Day School. The new assignments are effective July 1.
Former Director of Instruction for the Los Angeles Unified School District, Mr. Thompson has more than 25 years of experience as a teacher, principal and administrator. Under his leadership, Florence Avenue Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles achieved a remarkable 100-point gain on its Academic Performance Index (API) score from 2004 to 2006.
Mr. Thompson joined New Haven in 2006 as Director of Curriculum and later was promoted to Executive Director of Elementary Education. Under his leadership, the District “joined the Ivy League” in the spring of 2007, partnering with Columbia University to introduce “Writing Workshop,” a research-based approach to writing instruction and improving literacy. All of the District’s kindergarten, first- and second-grade teachers have now been trained in the program and are using it in their classrooms, and third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers will be trained this summer.
“Glynn is a proven instructional leader with a remarkable ability to inspire and excite principals and teachers,” Dr. Jaurequi said. “He knows what it takes to improve student achievement and recognizes the importance of principals as instructional leaders, and he also realizes how important it is that teachers have the freedom to keep their lessons fresh and relevant and the ability to make decisions about how instruction is delivered in their classrooms.”
As leader of what will be known as the Division of Teaching and Learning, Mr. Thompson will assume primary responsibility for District-wide instruction from Associate Superintendent of Education Services Carnell Edwards, who will leave New Haven at the end of the current school year to pursue options elsewhere in the state and in his native North Carolina.
Mr. Pizani will assume Mr. Thompson’s lead role with the District’s seven elementary schools. He was principal at Emanuele Elementary when the school made an impressive 39-point gain on its API score in 2005.
“Scott was a tremendous principal, and his work as Coordinator of Prevention and Intervention Services has made a real difference in helping us reduce suspensions and expulsions and in getting services for at-risk students,” Dr. Jaurequi said. “Glynn and Scott will make excellent partners in the Division of Teaching and Learning, as we work toward our goal of having 85 percent of our students reach proficiency by 2011.”
Ms. Metzinger, the new principal at Kitayama, spent six years as a fifth- and seventh-grade teacher at Barnard-White Middle School, before beginning her administrative career as an assistant principal at Barnard-White. For 15 years, she has worked with new teachers through the District’s Beginning Teachers Support and Assessment (BTSA) program. She has served as the District’s Director of Strategic Planning and Professional Development for the past 2½ years.
“Lisa is an outstanding leader who will make a remarkable principal,” Dr. Jaurequi said. “She has had a tremendous influence on young teachers throughout the District because of her BTSA work – she’s beloved, really, among those teachers – and she is a solid professional educator who will fit wonderfully in the Kitayama community.”
Ms. Metzinger takes over as principal from Gary Suplick, who requested a return to teaching. She was scheduled to be introduced to the Kitayama staff at an afternoon meeting today, and a letter to parents will be sent home with students Thursday.
The Board of Education, in addition to approving Mr. Thompson’s contract, approved a contract with Associate Superintendent for Personnel Derek McNamara. Dr. Jaurequi said Mr. Thompson, Mr. McNamara and Chief Business Officer Carol Gregorich will serve as the District’s primary leadership team.
Dr. Jaurequi said the District-level reorganization was prompted in part by the need to plan for a $7 million reduction in state funding, as a result of Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to slash California’s education budget. The District announced last month that five management-level positions were being eliminated and most if not all teachers who are retiring or leaving for other reasons will not be replaced, although no teachers are being laid off.
Dr. Jaurequi said the District is continuing the process of determining what kinds of cuts will be made to other services.
“It’s appalling, quite honestly,” she wrote in a message to employees Tuesday. “It’s forcing us to make some impossible choices; to lay off valuable employees, increase class sizes that we had just begun to reduce, and cut programs and services.”