This summer, Matt Dalton will become only the 11th principal to lead Toll Middle School since the campus opened to students in 1926 in the middle of a grape vineyard.
As a current assistant principal at Toll, Dalton replaces retiring Principal Bill Card, who has mentored him during the past three years he's been assistant principal.
"My concern has always been when I left, we have the right person. And we have the right person that's coming in. He's going to take us even further. It's the perfect situation," Card said.
Dalton has worked for nearly 15 years in Glendale Unified, starting first as a fifth-grade teacher at Valley View.
Born and raised in Reno, Nev., by educator parents, Dalton was intent on becoming a teacher.
His father taught business law and economics, and for one year, he was in his mother's second-grade class.
"I loved what they did, the lifestyle that they had, the difference that they made," Dalton said, adding that when he went off to college at USC, he immediately set his sights to major in education.
While there, from 1997 to 2001, he also played quarterback on the Trojans football team.
Dalton has spent the past seven years at Toll as a teacher, teacher specialist and then assistant principal.
"I think the one thing Bill really taught me is take care of people," Dalton said. "He created this culture of people wanting to be here and loving to be here. He taught me this idea that we talk about, which is 'culture trumps strategy.' We talk about that all the time, how you can have the greatest strategy, the greatest ideas, but without the culture set in place, none of that's going to work."
Dalton also adores the age group he serves with the 1,200 students on campus who are in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
"It's such a vulnerable and impressionable age," he said. "They need us now more than they ever do."
As the school district continues to implement the new Common Core state standards, Dalton said he's humbled to step into his new position surrounded by a staff who recently adopted "family" as a school-wide motto.
"That's really what we've become and that's what we've had for a long time. We can rely on each other to get things done, we can collaborate with each other," he said. "I love this school."
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.