As the 2021-2022 school year comes to a close, so do the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District’s (PYLUSD) various leadership academies for employees. This includes the Teacher Leadership Seminar, Classified Leadership Seminar, and Aspiring Leaders Program.
All three programs directly support the district’s strategic plan, The PYLUSD Advantage, Focus Area 2.0 which states: “A dynamic, high-quality instructional program facilitates life-long habits of intellectual inquiry. We actively engage each student in the learning process through the implementation of the core curriculum and effective instructional strategies including technology. To this end, we strive to attract, train and retain employees as well as develop strategic leaders who embrace the vision and values of the district.”
Teacher Leadership Seminar
Since 2017, PYLUSD has offered its signature Teacher Leadership Seminar, a one-year professional development academy for teachers to grow as effective educational leaders. For the 2021-2022 school year, under the leadership of Superintendent, Dr. Jim Elsasser, and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Mr. Rick Lopez, 22 teacher leaders met regularly to reflect and learn about leadership through the lens of the books Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips and Leadership Is an Art by Max DePree.
As a part of the program, leadership themes such as personal mastery, building teams and building people, change leadership, decision-making, and values were introduced with a focus on the characteristics of an effective leader. The curriculum for the program blended both theory and practice and provided an opportunity for professional readings and discussions amongst the group.
On Tuesday, May 31, Dr. Elsasser and Mr. Lopez led the teacher leaders through their final meeting of the school year, which culminated in a small certificate ceremony and group picture to commemorate the cohort’s accomplishment of completing the program.
Classified Leadership Academy
The district’s Classified Leadership Academy is designed for classified employees who want to learn and grow in their own personal leadership skills. Participants also explore themes of personal mastery, building teams and building people, change leadership, decision-making, and values.
Participants meet as a cohort several times throughout the year to discuss leadership topics and how they apply to current roles and future goals. They also engage in a book study with cohort members to read Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath.
Culminating the 2021-2022 school year, participants in the Classified Leadership Academy met for the final time this year on May 11, 2022, to celebrate the completion of their program. Each classified leader shared the name of someone in PYLUSD who has made an impact on their life and described how that person made a difference. Charged with going forward by making a difference in the lives of those they serve, each leader received a certificate honoring them for their time and dedication to our district.
Aspiring Leaders Program
Each year, principals are invited to recommend teachers with an interest in serving as administrators to apply for participation in the district’s Aspiring Leaders Academy. This two-year program allows teachers with leadership potential and an interest in developing their administrative skills the opportunity to shadow PYLUSD administrators and participate in a 40-hour internship project. Cohorts meet four times a year and have the opportunity to participate in a mock interview, resume-building workshop, and leadership development through district guest speakers.
The final session of Aspiring Leaders recently took place and featured a leadership lesson shared by Mr. Lopez. In addition, three program completers shared their internship projects with their principals in attendance. Brian Plunkett collaborated with the Educational Services Department and centered his internship project around the GEAR UP Program. Matthew and Tiffany Vasquez collaborated with the Student Services Department and centered their internship project around the districtwide emergency procedures. Second-year cohort members received certificates of completion to end the program.
“It is our expectation that the high-quality professional development strategies included in our professional development academies facilitate lifelong habits of learning in our staff to benefit the ongoing success of our students and overall excellence of our organization,” Dr. Elsasser shared. “This program is just one example of The PYLUSD Advantage in action.”
The following are the individuals who participated in this year’s programs:
Teacher Leadership Seminar Participants
Ann Libo-on – Travis Ranch School
Carin Benner – Tynes Elementary School
Carrie Pipkin – Wagner Elementary School
Claudia Lyman – Mabel Paine Elementary School
Courtney Fenstermaker – Valencia High School
David Quintero – Valencia High School
Jaclyn Chavez – Yorba Linda High School
Jason Pike – Student Services Department
Jennifer Fouladi – Rio Vista Elementary School
Jessica Leonard – Glenknoll Elementary
Katherine Becker – Rose Drive Elementary
Lauren Bakunas – Valencia High School
Lauren Hartshorne – Valadez Middle School Academy
Ligia Alvarado Stowell – Ruby Drive Elementary School
Linda Mason – Linda Vista Elementary School
Mark Pederson – El Dorado High School
Matthew Mason – Esperanza High School
Melissa Holo – Teacher on Special Assignment
Natasha Ulibarri – Lakeview Elementary School
Sage Newman – Valadez Middle School Academy
Stephanie Brock – Tuffree Middle School
Steven Craik – Fairmont Elementary School
Classified Leadership Program Participants
Cathy Martinez – Kraemer Middle School
Ana Avila – District Office
Priscilla C. David – Esperanza High School
Sean Emad – Bernardo Yorba Middle School
Gina Brown – Kraemer Middle School
Emily Job – Woodsboro Elementary School
Stephanie Yamashita – Travis Ranch School
Bianca Palestino – Educational Services
Jeanne Melodia – El Dorado High School
Maribel Amaya – El Dorado High School
Sharon Fagan – Sierra Vista Elementary School
Aspiring Leaders Program Participants
Year 1 Participants
Grace Choe – Morse Elementary School
Rachael Collins – Educational Services
Kristi Cooan – Golden Elementary School
Stephanie Dempsey – Educational Services
Charlene Fravien – Educational Services
Jenna Lind Robertson – Tuffree Middle School
Julie Pak – Glenview Elementary School
Jenner Rasic – Golden Elementary School
Katherine Visconti – Topaz Elementary School
Year 2 Participants
Tiffany Vasquez – Lakeview Elementary School
Brian Plunkett – Yorba Linda Middle School
Matt Vasquez – Valencia High School