4 new principals appointed to elementary and middle schools, search continues for new head of Berkeley High

Cragmont Elementary School in Berkeley: one of four schools to have been appointed a new principal last week. Photo: Cragmont School

Cragmont Elementary School in Berkeley: one of four schools to have been appointed a new principal last week. Photo: Cragmont School

Four new principals have been appointed to Berkeley elementary and middle schools, and the Berkeley Unified Board has decided to conduct a second-round search for a candidate to replace Pasquale Scuderi who is leaving his post as principal of Berkeley High to become Assistant Superintendent.

The board also approved last week the appointment of a new vice-principal at Berkeley High and a program supervisor for its Extended Learning Program.

There follows information on all the new appointments, provided by BUSD.

Hazelle Fortich is the new principal at Cragmont Elementary School

Hazelle Fortich has deep roots in our district community. She has served as Coordinator for Early Childhood Program, summer school principal, interim principal at Washington, literacy coach at Washington, after-school teacher at LeConte, and teacher at Malcolm X. One of her references states: “She lives and works in Berkeley and is a committed parent, teacher and community member. Those experiences mean that she will bring the importance of family and community to any school district. As a parent, she knows the value of strong ties to families and the value of fostering all forms of diversity in our schools.”

Sonya Martin is new principal at Jefferson Elementary School

For the past three years, Sonya has served as Vice-Principal at Willard. She most recently served as interim principal at Malcolm X. Prior to that, she was a teacher on special assignment in our Evaluation and Assessment Department, a teacher at Willard and Longfellow, and summer school principal. She began her teaching career in Oakland Unified School District where she worked from 1992 to 2002 as a full inclusion teacher. One of Sonya’s colleagues describes her as, “intelligent, hardworking, dedicated, professional and committed to issues of equity in education.”

René Molina is new principal at Berkeley Arts Magnet

For the past four years, René has been the principal of Madrone Elementary School in Santa Rosa. Prior to that he worked as assistant principal at the elementary and middle school level in Pittsburg. He received a master’s degree in education from University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, sciences and psychology from San Diego State University. A reference shares that René is an intelligent, hardworking and compassionate administrator who is able to analyze situations quickly and thoughtfully, is willing to do whatever it takes to get a job done, does an excellent job of listening, and cares deeply about the success of all students.

Marcos García is new principal at Longfellow Middle School

Marcos has served as an elementary principal and social studies teacher in West Contra Costa, and as a middle and high school teacher in Emeryville and Los Angeles. He received a master’s degree in educational leadership through Principal Leadership Institute at the University of California at Berkley and a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA. One of his supervisors affirms that Marcos’s “level of urgency, expected rigor and support ensured that the students were well-prepared for academic and career success. His commitment to equity for underserved students, and his resolve to close the exposure and achievement gap have driven his work and led to many accomplishments.”

Daniel Roose is new vice-principal at Berkeley High School

Daniel Roose has served as a dean at Berkeley High School. His focus on increasing student engagement by establishing a system to increase student attendance and developing parent relations to support student needs has resulted in a significant increase in student attendance. Prior to becoming a dean, he taught Spanish as a World Language at Berkeley High and also served as the department co-chair and WASC coordinator. One of his references states: “It is my professional judgment, after writing nearly 250 of these recommendations for PLI graduates, that Daniel is a strong contender for leadership in any school anywhere. He believes in students, and he believes in the power of adults working together to serve students. He is highly organized, possesses strong interpersonal skills, is wise and thoughtful, and is ready to join a team that is committed to providing high quality teaching and learning.”

Tauvia Frank Harrigan, program supervisor, Extended Learning

Tauvia is presently a teacher on special assignment coordinating the after=school program at Greenfield Unified School District where she also served as the After-School Site Leader. She has also served as teacher at the adult school level and a Spanish middle school teacher in Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and History from Dartmouth. One of her colleagues describes her as charismatic, genuine, exemplifying integrity, always up for a challenge, collaborative, innovative, reliable, and with an excellent work ethic.

2 Berkeley school principals move to new district roles (05.16.14)
BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi moves to Assistant Superintendent (05.01.14)
Illegal enrollment is boon and burden to Berkeley schools (04.08.14)

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  • Doc

    It’s good to see them shuffling the chairs rather than deal with the catastrophe of BUSD.

  • Completely_Serious

    More administrator positions created/filled. Excellent!

  • Nick

    Jason Lustig for BHS principal.

  • suckatash

    What needs to happen at BUSD? Enlighten us.

  • guest

    Catastrophe? Do you have any idea what young families are paying for homes so their kids can be educated in BUSD?

  • guest

    Your experience with BUSD is vastly different from mine or that of my kids. I’m not dismissing your experience, which could be legitimately very different–big district and all. But there are plenty of people out here pretty happy about the whole thing. “Catastrophe” is pretty strong language and wouldn’t seem to reflect that.

  • Guest

    The bios of Mr. Molina and Mr. Garcia helpfully include their degrees and the universities where they were earned. I would be interested to know this basic but important information about Hazelle Fortich and Sonya Martin. Thank you.

  • guest

    It’s bad enough that almost anyone living in Berkeley who has the means – including all 4 founders of Berkeleyside – sends their kids to private school.

  • Berkeley Bear

    I think the private school issue has a lot to do with the selection/assignment/bussing process, which seems almost consciously designed to create parental angst and anger (the illusion of choice is worse than no choice at all in this regard).

    In my experience most people are pretty happy with schools AFTER they’re at least, say, 4 months into the school they’re assigned to. Saying that the schools are a “catastrophe” begs the question of what word you’re left with describe truly troubled districts like Oakland, Richmond, Vallejo, and so on…”post-apocalyptic”? “Smoking craters”?

    Could Berkeley do better? Sure. But by and large…pretty good. If I didn’t believe that I’d move.

    (BTW, for clarity, I was “guest” 2 posts up).

  • djoelt1

    People are confused about many things. Including the quality of private schools. I’ve seen what they are offering and they don’t seem to offer much. There is a seat at a private school for anyone that can afford to pay.

  • guest

    Park Day School student:teacher ratio = 11:1

    Average Berkeley public school ratio = 22:1

  • rhuberry

    Fairly typical in my experience as a former teacher. Outsiders, particularly, come to BUSD thinking they’ve landed the job of their dreams. After working in the district for sometimes a very short while, they notice the systemwide dysfunction and move on — at least the best ones usually do.

  • rhuberry

    I know many people who are very happy with the school their child attends in Oakland. In fact when I was teaching I was on a review team assigned to do a PQR (program quality review) of a school in Oakland. That school was far superior in every way (achievement, school climate, discipline, programs, playground, supplies, curriculum, leadership) to any school I taught in or my children attended in Berkeley. Not all schools are alike, just like in Berkeley (the reason school choice is so important to BUSD parents) but overall I don’t think it is fair to say Berkeley outshines them.

    A colleague of mine in BUSD taught for a few years in Richmond (after leaving BUSD) in a very low socioeconomic school and found it much more satisfying to teach there than in Berkeley. Much less politics and political correctness and more attention to student achievement.

    And finally, I did some of my student teaching in Vallejo. Granted it was a number of years ago, but BUSD wasn’t superior to it in any of the ways that matter for student achievement.

    I don’t know if it’s media coverage or just an attitude or smugness in Berkeley that we think we are better than our neighbors.

  • Guest

    Wow. My kid’s teachers so far in BUSD literally could not have been better. Do I wish that there was music class every day and that the classified employees had a contract? Yes. However, our experience so far has been terrific thanks to outstanding teachers. I don’t think our experience is a fluke and am grateful every day for the school my child attends. This is no catastrophe.

  • Berkeley Bear

    Fair enough. I don’t have any direct experience with any of the above, and I certainly have friends who are anticipating a fine experience in some of the Oakland schools. My point had more to do with over-the-top rhetoric, which I find counterproductive, than with trying to run down any particular districts.

    I will say that the much-discussed issue of out-of-district enrollment in Berkeley is a firm indicator that many people with skin in the game find Berkeley’s schools to be more desirable; it’s possible I suppose that the flow goes both ways, but I haven’t heard of many (any) examples.

  • Completely_Serious

    What is “equity”? What is “social justice”? Why does BUSD focus on these things instead of education for all the students, high and low achievers?

  • djoelt1

    Test score comparison?

    Private schools could take the same standardized tests as public school students to show their superiority. Does any private school in Berkeley do so? In the Bay Area? In the state? Controlling for open admissions and the wealth effect?

    Looking at the colleges Park Day School students go on to attend, there’s a lot of second and third rate colleges. Do you think PDS budges the needle for kids or do parents just spend $250,000 extra for their kids to end up in the same place while basking in a sense of exclusivity for a number of years? Is there real, proven utility there – or just the imagined sort?

  • djoelt1

    We know people ranging from fry cooks to serial entrepreneurs who all send their children to BUSD.

  • BUSDupe

    I don’t think it’s that simple. In our own case, when we decided to have kids we decided to move from El Cerrito to either Albany or Berkeley for the school districts. We spent a lot of time visiting schools in each district, going to school functions, etc. We regrettably fell for BUSD’s marketing and paid a premium to buy in Berkeley instead of Albany. If I knew what I know now about BUSD and after seeing friends’ experiences in the Albany district there’s no way in hell I’d move to Berkeley for the schools. At worst, I’d would have stayed in El Cerrito and fraudulently our kids in BUSD like so many other families in our school.

  • gogoolives1

    My older son went to Park Day until, in 4th grade, I asked why the kids weren’t learning their multiplication tables or how to read a clock. He then went to BAM with his younger brother and was taught by the best teacher we’ve ever had. There were good and bad teachers at Park Day and our kids had excellent and horrible teachers at BUSD (the latter unfortunately was prevalent at BHS–I still remember the AP History teacher who showed movies every day and never assigned homework). I came away from the experience surmising that teacher quality was middling at private school and either fantastic or stomach churning at public school. Also, the administrative bungling at BUSD was really difficult to deal with (still angry over misrepresentation of courses as approved by UC when they weren’t and the effects on UC admissions by BHS students) and private schools were more accommodating. So it’s not surprising that people have different attitudes toward the two choices. Pluses and minuses in both.

  • djoelt1

    Berkeley is about 7% cheaper per square foot than Albany so you didn’t pay a premium.

  • guest

    For our family, too. Six years in BUSD with two kids, and we really couldn’t be much happier. We’ve consistently had committed and gifted educators at every grade level and a few that have just been amazing.

    We too are grateful for the school experience our kids are having, and we’re really looking forward to working with Sonya Martin!

  • Truly

    I hope Berkeley High is up to the job of teaching students what these two important concepts mean–clearly this writer missed out at his high school if he has to ask these questions now.

  • Parent

    There are two conflicting points which some disgruntled people on this thread make about Berkeley schools: 1) Berkeley schools are lousy. 2) Parents in other districts like Berkeley schools so much that they’ll lie, cheat and steal to get their children into them. Can both be true? Not likely.

  • Parent

    This may come as a shock to you, but many parents think there’s more to education than standardized test scores and elite colleges. We just know too many second and third rate people who boast about their high test scores and what college they attended.,

  • twill monkey

    The promotion of Daniel Roose is disappointing and will fuel the fire from BHS critics. He has sent us threatening letters regarding the occasional absences of our legally-transfered kid (honor roll, volunteers, etc.). Other parents have told me they’ve received scary letters, too. I don’t know the content, just the results. None of my business) In the meantime, the same phony-address, illegal students who started 9th grade in the over-subscribed IB school are STILL there. There has been no action on illegal students. None. Zip. Nada. These are high performing kids and that helps elevate the scores, doesn’t it? Many of their parents never even help out around school, either. So, legit Berkeley kids don’t get space in an excellent program (both curriculum and teachers) because there isn’t room, and the cheating spawn of cheaters do.

  • guest

    >Can both be true? Not likely.

    Absolutely, in fact. Berkeley schools have an appearance of quality based on past history which is quite different from the reality in the schools. This appearance of quality leads more people to fraudulently enroll their children in our schools which increases class sizes, dilutes funding, and lessens the quality of education.

  • Just Sayin’

    If the answer is so simple, why is it that all you can offer is a snarky quip instead of concise definitions?

  • guest

    This ignores the price differences over time. Depending on when they bought their home they could have saved hundreds of thousands in either city by buying at the bottom of the market.

  • EBGuy

    Cragmont needed to be rebuilt due to seismic issues as it is located very close to a fault line. Around the same time Rosa Parks was rebuilt from the ground up and Malcolm X was also rehabilitated.

  • guest

    At no point in at least the past 4 decades has Albany real estate been less expensive than Berkeley real estate. Prices are actually closer to parity now than they have been in many years, but Albany has always been a more expensive market.

  • djoelt1

    Trying to determine how this is relevant…can’t figure it out.

    Even controlling for house size and bedroom count, my comment holds.

  • EBGuy

    Just to clarify, when you say “real estate” you mean “homes”. Berkeley condos carry more than a 50% premium over those in Albany. At first glance I didn’t believe djoelt1 when I looked at the Redfin market summary because of this factor. When you pull out the condos from the data, Albany is indeed more expensive than Berkeley.

  • guest

    Who’s talking about pricing at exactly the same time? They could have passed up an opportunity to buy in Albany at the bottom of the market and ended up paying more for a similar house in Berkeley later on.

  • guest

    What level was your child at? For middle of the road students BUSD is pretty good. For high or low achievers it’s pretty bad.

  • guest

    Do you believe that fry cooks have $32,000 per year for private schools, and send their children to BUSD by choice, or do you think that they do so by necessity?

  • rhuberry

    Perfect example of how people think Berkeley schools are so good and illegally enroll their kids here. It is a perception, maybe because Berkeley is home to a world-class university, not a reality. Since kids are in only one school district at a time it is nearly impossible to compare any district to another. Parents may be happy in BUSD but that doesn’t mean it’s any better, or even as good, as neighboring districts.

  • djoelt1

    necessity – point being?
    Plenty of people with means to make other choices or live elsewhere choose BUSD.

    Park Day School appear to have rolling admissions. If you have 20K and your child isn’t a complete reprobate, your child can attend. Pretty special!

  • BUSDuped

    Yes, we would have spent less buying in Albany but the homes wouldn’t really be comprable. The better investment, if that’s what I cared most about, would be to add on to the old house and enroll fraudulently in Berkeley (fraudulent enrollment in Albany is out of the question since they actually respect their residents in this regard).