New administrators coming to 9 Newport-Mesa schools

new administrators in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District
Top row from left, Eugene Kwong, Cindy Pedroso, Nina Glassen and Jeanette Ruley, and bottom row from left, Annalisa Schwartz, Jake Topete and Teri Lyn Schad are set for new administrative roles in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
(Photos courtesy of Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

Nine schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District will see new principals or assistant principals in the coming school year.

Eugene Kwong and Cindy Pedroso are joining the district as principals of Costa Mesa Middle School and Pomona Elementary School, respectively.

Nina Glassen, Jeanette Ruley, Annalisa Schwartz, Jake Topete and Teri Lyn Schad will serve as assistant principals at various schools.

The formal appointments will be made at the board of trustees’ meeting Tuesday. They follow a round of five principal appointments in June.


The first day of school for all Newport-Mesa campuses is Sept. 3, except for Early College High School, which began classes Aug. 7.

Here are the newest selections:

Eugene Kwong, Costa Mesa Middle School principal

“I am thrilled to be a part of the Costa Mesa Middle School community, where everyone I meet is warm, friendly and welcoming,” Kwong said.

“I’m looking forward to visiting classrooms to get to know our students and staff,” he added. “But to also see amazing lessons revolving around the use of Chromebooks as our students and staff embark on a journey to become 21st-century learners.”


He will succeed Jennifer Padilla, who was appointed in 2017 and left the district this year.

Kwong, who has 17 years of educational experience, served as associate principal at Lawndale High School until his appointment with Newport-Mesa. He also was a math teacher and an assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach at Hawthorne High School. Both of those schools are in the Centinela Valley Union High School District.

Kwong received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and psychology and a master’s in math from UCLA. He obtained a doctorate in educational leadership from Cal State Long Beach.

Cindy Pedroso, Pomona Elementary School principal

Over the past 18 years, Pedroso has worked as a bilingual and resource teacher, a literacy coach and an administrator for the Ocean View School District’s early learning program.

She worked with school sites to transition to a new language arts curriculum and worked on the preschool program. Pedroso was instrumental in incorporating technology to engage and enhance student learning, according to a statement from the Newport-Mesa district.

“Mrs. Pedroso is known for her ability to connect with and build rapport [with] teachers to collaboratively determine supports and purposeful interventions for student achievement while garnering support and maintaining positive relationships with staff, students and parents,” the statement said.

At Pomona Elementary, she will succeed Carrie Gammel, who returned to teaching.

Pedroso received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and a master’s in education reading from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She also received a master’s in educational leadership from Lynn University, also in Boca Raton.


Nina Glassen, Costa Mesa High School assistant principal

Glassen, a Costa Mesa resident and parent of two children, is taking on Costa Mesa High’s second assistant principal position.

She began her 20-year career in education as a history teacher at Aliso Niguel High School in the Capistrano Unified School District and at Diamond Bar High School in the Walnut Valley Unified School District.

She also was an instructional coach before taking on her most recent role as a curriculum specialist in Capistrano Unified, helping to develop the history and social science curriculum, literacy interventions and professional development.

The Newport-Mesa district said Glassen brings “an extensive background and deep understanding of curriculum, instruction and assessment.”

She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC San Diego and a master’s in American studies from Cal State Fullerton. She is working toward a doctorate in education at Concordia University’s Irvine campus.

Jeanette Ruley, Back Bay/Monte Vista High School assistant principal

“I am thrilled to be starting the school year at Back Bay/Monte Vista High School. I am excited to work alongside the staff and students to make this year amazing,” Ruley said.

Ruley joins Newport-Mesa after four years as an assistant principal in the Carpinteria Unified School District. She led site-level development of Positive Behavior Intervention Systems, or PBIS, and served on the district’s attendance committee and as its director of Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID.

A statement by Newport-Mesa described Ruley as known for her calm demeanor and thoughtful approach.


Ruley received a bachelor’s degree in American literature and culture and a master’s in education from UCLA.

Annalisa Schwartz, Mariners and Newport Heights Elementary schools assistant principal

Schwartz, previously an elementary school assistant principal in the Orange Unified School District, will now take on the same role for both Mariners and Newport Heights Elementary schools.

Schwartz began her career in the Lawndale Elementary School District, where she was a teacher in both general and special education.

She later joined Orange Unified as an elementary special education program coordinator before moving into an assistant principal role.

“As a new administrator at NMUSD, I’m thankful for the warm welcoming I have received from fellow administrators and staff,” Schwartz said. “I look forward to getting to know our students, teachers, parents and community members this school year while supporting Mariners and Newport Heights Elementary.”

She will replace Ryan Longacre and Terri Clarke, who were appointed principals at California Elementary School and Newport Heights, respectively.

Schwartz received a bachelor’s degree in school administration and a master’s in liberal studies from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Jake Topete, Kaiser and College Park Elementary schools assistant principal

Topete is stepping down from his role as principal at California Elementary School to serve as assistant principal for both Kaiser and College Park Elementary.

He’s replacing Schad and Longacre, who previously were assistant principals at Kaiser and College Park, respectively.

Topete has worked for Newport-Mesa in various capacities for 12 years — as a first-grade teacher, a teacher on special assignment and an assistant principal, along with principal of California Elementary.

He received a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a master’s in education from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa.

Teri Lyn Schad, Whittier Elementary School assistant principal

Leaving behind her role as an assistant principal at Kaiser Elementary School, Schad will now be assistant principal at Whittier Elementary and continue in that post at Lincoln Elementary.

Schad has worked in the Newport-Mesa district for 12 years and taught at Paularino and Rea Elementary schools. She also has been an English and language arts teacher on special assignment.

At Whittier Elementary, she will succeed Clarke, who is now principal of Newport Heights Elementary.

Schad received a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Cal State Northridge and a master’s in pupil personal services from Cal State Los Angeles.

The district is still working to select a principal for Whittier Elementary. Alex Morales, a retired principal in Newport-Mesa, will serve as interim principal until a decision is made.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.