Pittman out, Luzak in at 9/12

LA Canada

After just one year on the job, La Cañada High School 9/12 Principal Audra Pittman is stepping down.

Pittman will leave La Cañada at the end of the school year to accept a position as a secondary instructional coordinator with the San Mateo County Office of Education, district officials announced last week.

"It is a promotion," Pittman said. "It is an opportunity that I really couldn't pass up."

The news came just weeks after LCHS 9/12 Assistant Principal Kevin Buchanan and Athletic Director Tamar Hill said they would leave their respective positions, Buchanan to assume the principalship at Oak Park High School and Hill to focus on teaching and coaching at LCHS.

In addition, it triggered a series of internal personnel changes that, if approved next month by the school board, will further alter an already shifting administrative landscape.

Slotted to replace Pittman is Dr. Jacqueline Luzak, principal of LCHS 7/8. Luzak in turn, is to be replaced by Anais Wenn, principal of Palm Crest Elementary School.

"I can't think of a better and more experienced team for [LCHS 7/8 and LCHS 9/12] than Dr. Luzak and Ms. Wenn," said Supt. James Stratton. "They are fine principals who work effectively together and who are creative, results-oriented innovators."

The district is moving quickly to smooth the transition for Luzak and Wenn as well as to interview candidates to fill the vacant positions, said Wendy Sinnette, assistant superintendent of human resources.

"Where we are fortunate is the people filling the posts at the high school are district employees, and they have proven to be educators of the highest caliber with tremendous leadership skills," Sinnette said.

The school board is expected to formally approve the new LCHS 9/12 and LCHS 7/8 principals on June 1, Sinnette said.

At that time, board members will also approve a replacement for Paradise Canyon Elementary School Principal Donna Robinson, who retires at the end of the school year.

Replacements for the LCHS 9/12 assistant principal and athletic director positions, and the Palm Crest Elementary principal position, are expected to be announced on June 15, Sinnette said.

Wenn worked as a middle school administrator with Glendale Unified for five years before taking the helm at Palm Crest Elementary in 2006, experience that will serve her well in her new job, she said.

"For me, the most important aspect of heading a school is the forming of relationships with students, staff and parents and gaining their trust," Wenn said. "The rest will all work out fine."

The community's sights, however, will be trained on the new LCHS 9/12 principal — a high-profile figure in a high-performing district that prides itself on standardized test scores and college acceptance rates.

Luzak acknowledged the expectations but said she is already well acquainted with the school and its students. And the pursuit of outstanding professional development and classroom instruction remain the same, she added.

"We have very active parents, a very active community, and naturally they hold us to high standards," Luzak said. "I think the bottom line is we are working for the same thing. As long as we keep moving in the same direction the kids are going to be the ones who benefit."

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