Pasquale Scuderi, principal of Berkeley High School since 2010, will become Berkeley Unified’s assistant superintendent for educational services at the end of this school year. Scuderi will take over the role from Neil Smith who is retiring after 25 years with the district.
“The upside to this is that I could move along my career trajectory and still remain connected to the work we’re doing here at Berkeley High,” Scuderi said. “But it’s certainly a little bittersweet. I’ve not really connected yet with what it will mean not being with the kids on a daily basis.”
BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans said he believes Scuderi can play a key role in helping Berkeley develop into a “world-class district.”
“One of the things I like about Pasquale is he’s very creative, very innovative,” said Evans, who only took up his post last summer. Evans cited particularly Scuderi’s success in breaking down silos within Berkeley High, and “getting the whole school talking the same language. Moving a school that size tells me that he can move a district.”
In an email to the Berkeley High community today, Scuderi noted a number of achievements during his tenure.
“We have raised attendance rates across the school, assessed our students’ academic writing abilities on an unprecedented scale, dropped suspension rates, steadily grown our academic performance index over the last four years, and strengthened teaching capacity as well as developed coherent instructional language across our vast and diverse faculty.”
Scuderi’s first year as principal, the 2010-11 school year, was marked by a series of gun-related incidents at BHS. But he marked a clear change from previous administrations by communicating both good news and bad swiftly and transparently to the school community (including, sporadically, through his use of the high school’s Twitter account).
Scuderi points to his emphasis on creating stronger internal processes as an important achievement.
“Four years ago there were a lot of great ideas on this campus,” he said. “I think we now have some processes and language for how to make those ideas actionable. Our instructional practice as a collective has really gotten better. This is a huge, dynamic system. If it’s going to be good, it has to be in a cycle of continual improvement.”
Evans said the district is advertising the position starting today. He expects to look at both internal and external candidates, and plans to hire a new principal by the end of May.
“I’m open for the best person that can lead that school,” Evans said. “I want someone who is going to work with the teachers, work with the community, but someone who is going to be kid-centered, making sure the kids are the number one priority.”
“Whoever walks into my office is going to have a very cohesive administration team to work with,” Scuderi said. “There is a lot of continuity that will remain here.”
Scuderi said that he’d heard some mixed reaction to today’s announcement.
“A parent told me this morning that their child said, ‘Oh that’s too bad, but maybe now we can have Rally Day,’” he said.
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New Berkeley superintendent Donald Evans: “This is my ministry” (07.11.13)
Pasquale Scuderi on his first year as head of Berkeley High (07.07.11)
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