For two months this summer, Jennifer De Ladurantey, a Toll Middle School veteran teacher and administrator, carried the tag “interim” while performing duties belonging to the school’s principal.
De Ladurantey, an assistant principal, stepped into the role that had been held by Tom Crowther after he left in July to become the head administrator at Burbank High School.
While it wasn’t certain De Ladurantey would be hired to replace Crowther, Glendale Unified selected the Whittier College graduate as the 13th principal in the school’s 93-year history at a special meeting last week.
De Ladurantey was introduced to the greater Glendale community at Tuesday’s regular board meeting and now has another label attached to her position: new.
“This is an exciting opportunity,” De Ladurantey said. “Toll has always felt like home and I want that same feeling for the staff, community and teachers.”
While De Ladurantey has never been a principal before, she’s hardly new to Toll.
A former eighth-grade history teacher, De Ladurantey was hired as a midyear teaching replacement in February 2002 during Jan Canfield’s tenure and has been at Toll for all but four years since, spending two years on hiatus earning a master’s degree from the University of Washington in Seattle.
It was the eras of Toll principals William “Bill” Card and Tom Crowther she considered the most formative.
De Ladurantey sees her administrative style as a compromise between the “the great building up of people” by Card and the “mastery of instruction” demonstrated by Crowther.
“They had completely different styles, and I learned from both,” De Ladurantey said. “I’m my own person, but I will cherish the examples they left.”
Crowther described De Ladurantey as “talented and hardworking.”
“Jenn is a very kid-first educator who puts herself in the shoes of the students and parents as she makes decisions,” Crowther said. “At the same time, Jenn was a Toll Titan teacher, so she relates very well to this faculty and staff.”
Her empathy and caring attitude were fostered by 12 years of parochial school education, including four years at Rosary Academy in Fullerton, De Ladurantey said.
“I learned important lessons from those days that I’ve carried until today,” said De Ladurantey, who framed a second-grade report card in which her teacher encouraged the youngster to improve her behavior.
Mary Mason, Glendale Unified’s executive director of elementary education, said she saw De Ladurantey’s talent first-hand when the then-Roosevelt Middle School principal welcomed her as a new assistant principal in 2014.
“It was pretty evident, even from her first year as an administrator, that Jennifer was a solid administrator with great instincts and problem-solving skills,” Mason said.
De Ladurantey has an advantage over truly new principals in that she knows the Toll culture and climate, one challenged last year when a brawl broke out across the street at Hoover High in October.
In the aftermath, De Ladurantey said Toll administrators rallied around their students by offering to listen and stressing the importance of inclusion.
“One of the things that came out of that is we took the opportunity to have direct conversations with students about why something like this happened,” De Ladurantey said.
She added, “Ultimately, it’s the teachers and staff who create and cultivate a culture of learning and inclusion since we’re here year after year. I want to continue to build that here.”