District hires new assistant superintendent of instructional services

The Laguna Beach Unified School District has a new administrator with familial ties to the district.

On Tuesday, the district's board unanimously approved the hiring of Alysia Odipo as assistant superintendent of instructional services. Odipo, who spent the last two years as director of elementary education for the Bellflower Unified School District, in Los Angeles County, replaces Darlene Messinger, who retired last week after three years with Laguna Beach Unified.

Odipo also has served as an elementary principal at the high-performing Quail Summit Elementary School in the Walnut Valley Unified School District and has experience as a middle school assistant principal, literacy coach and elementary teacher, according to a Laguna Beach Unified news release.

"Dr. Odipo's vast experiences in education, her focus on building relationships with staff, students and community, and her focus on teaching and learning make her the perfect fit to join the LBUSD team," Laguna Beach Unified Supt. Jason Viloria said in a statement.

Viloria said Tuesday that three superintendents recommended Odipo. Thirty-eight candidates applied for the position.

“She is incredibly smart,” trustee Carol Normandin said during the meeting. “It’s good to surround yourself with people who are just as or smarter than you.”

Odipo earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from Westmont College, near Santa Barbara, a master's degree in educational leadership from Cal State Los Angeles and a doctorate in K-12 leadership from USC. She is also an adjunct professor at UC Irvine.

Odipo is among a family of educators. Her mother, Marge Hobbs, was principal at Top of the World Elementary in Laguna Beach from 1990 to 1993, while her husband, Ben, is assistant superintendent of information technology in the Corona-Norco Unified School District.

Laguna Beach Unified staff and trustees recognized Messinger's contributions at their board meeting last week.

Messinger entered Laguna Beach Unified at a critical time three years ago, helping teachers and staff prepare students for new standardized tests in English/language arts and mathematics, known as Common Core State Standards.

"Darlene, you imparted tremendous knowledge, leadership and integrity, and that will be your legacy," said Leisa Winston, Laguna Beach Unified's director of human resources and communications.

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FOR THE RECORD

August 3, 11:38 a.m.: A previous version of this story misidentified Leisa Winston as the district's director of human resources and communications. She is the assistant superintendent of human resources and communication. An earlier version of this story also quoted Normandin as saying, "It's good to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you." She said, "It's good to surround yourself with people who are just as or smarter than you."

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Odipo has also worked in curriculum and teacher development regarding Common Core and has demonstrated success in building relationships, improving school culture and fostering collaborative environments, the release said.

Odipo will start later this month. The board will recognize her at its Aug. 23 meeting.

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