Laguna Beach Unified School District Supt. Robert Fraisse announced earlier this week that he will retire at the end of the 2009-10 school year, ending a 37-year career in academia in California, the last three of which he served in Laguna Beach.
“It has been an honor to be part of the legacy of this community’s culture of continuous improvement and to work with our teachers, staff, parents, administrators and school board members in an effort to add value to this great school system,” Fraisse said. “While I am proud of the accomplishments of the past three years, I truly believe that the best is yet to come for this amazing school district.”
The most satisfying achievements, he said, have been the implementation of strong education and intervention programs like Success Maker that aid struggling students in areas of weakness, as well as special programs dedicated to the arts, music and physical education.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have the resources to provide these programs in our schools, where they are thriving rather than being cut like they are in so many other districts.”
The biggest challenge as superintendent, he said, has been the tendency toward insulation from things happening outside the district and making a concerted effort to look beyond Laguna’s borders for helpful information and “the right answers.”
“I hope the district will continue to look critically at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of our schools, and will devise ways to continually improve,” he said. “It is my fondest hope that this process of moving forward through thoughtful, reflective analysis will continue.”
Fraisse began his career as a teacher and counselor in the Los Angeles and Las Virgenes Unified School District He assumed his first superintendent position in 1996 in the Hueneme Elementary School District, and later accepted the same role with the Conejo Valley Unified School District, the largest school system in Ventura County. Over the course of his career, he has been recognized for many awards, including recognition by the Assn. of California School Administrators, the California Teachers’ Assn., and the California Media Assn.
Upon his retirement, Fraisse will rejoin the faculty at California Lutheran University to serve as distinguished educator in residence, where he will work with teacher preparation and leadership programs in the school of education and serve as a liaison to the K-12 school community, an opportunity about which he said he’s most excited.
On what he’ll miss most about working in the LBUSD, he said, “the people.”
“I’ve met some of the nicest people here than I’ve ever met in my career, and I’ll miss them greatly.”