A former teacher becomes principal

When Sharon Cuseo began her career in education 18 years ago, she fostered no plans of becoming a principal.

"It never even occurred to me," said Cuseo, who is scheduled to become David Starr Jordan Middle School's principal next semester. "It was kind of just a natural progression, but when I first started, that was not in my mind at all."

But come July— when Principal Mary Margaret Kljunak retires after 16 years in the post — Cuseo will take the reins.

Kljunak began her career teaching at Jordan Middle in 1969 and has worked in the Burbank Unified School District for 38 years.

Cuseo also began her teaching career at Jordan Middle School, so the position of principal feels like a fitting return, she said.

Cuseo's knowledge of Jordan Middle School's inner workings will be an asset in her job there as principal, Burroughs High Principal Emilio Urioste said.

"I think that her already having a knowledge of David Starr Jordan Middle School and of some of the staff that were there, even when she was there, is going to make her transition from Burroughs back to Jordan, I think, fairly uneventful," Urioste said.

Cuseo is looking forward to some of those familiarities, as well as to some changes when she takes to her desk as leader of Jordan, she said. Even though she likes Jordan the way it is, she hopes to make her mark on the school during her tenure.

"I like the idea of actually making changes," Cuseo said. "And especially for me, my passion is really instruction and what happens in the classroom, and as an administrator in a small district like Burbank, you get the opportunity to really contribute and to make decisions about curriculum and what happens in the classroom."

Kljunak and Cuseo will have a few meetings and a walk-through of the campus to talk about what can be expected in the coming years and the current operations of the school, Kljunak said.

"I think that she's well prepared," Kljunak said. "A lot of the staff worked with her, so they know her and they're welcoming her, so I think that they are going to be on board with whatever she needs to do."

Cuseo's official first day will be July 1. Kljunak's last day is June 30.

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