The Mountain View Whisman School District announced a slate of new hires Thursday night, including three new principals tasked with leading schools through the logistical challenges of teaching students remotely starting next month.
Over the last month, district officials revealed that two principals have resigned -- Monta Loma Elementary Principal Gloria Higgins and Mistral Elementary Principal Tabitha Miller -- and that Theuerkauf Elementary Principal Swati Dagar will be moving to a new position in the district office.
The announcements add to what has already been rapid turnover in leadership across most district schools, with some now on their third principal since 2015.
Replacing Higgins at Monta Loma Elementary School will be Trisha Lee, a Bay Area native and Santa Clara University graduate. Lee has spent most of her career working as a teacher and principal in the Milpitas Unified School District, working at schools at the elementary, middle and high school level. She more recently served as principal of Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School in Santa Clara.
Replacing Miller at Mistral will be Claudia Olaciregui, who grew up in Colombia before moving to the area. She spent 11 years teaching at Ellis Elementary School in Sunnyvale, and later served as principal of a Spanish and English dual language program for K-8 students. She was briefly placed on special assignment for a community adult school in November last year before coming to Mountain View Whisman, according to the Morgan Hill Times.
Dagar, who served as Theuerkauf's principal for two years, is switching roles effective this month and will be working in the district office as the director of curriculum and instruction, according to district personnel reports. She is taking over for the previous director, Tara Vikjord, who will be the district's new interim chief human relations officer. The previous human relations chief, Carmen Ghysels, announced her resignation at the end of the month.
Dagar, who did not respond to requests for comment, had previously taught at a STEM and engineering school in Morgan Hill Unified, and moved to Theuerkauf during big changes at the school. The demographics and school attendance boundaries for Theuerkauf have changed significantly, and it is no longer classified as a high-needs school under federal guidelines.
The latest available state test results show the school's academic performance is rising swiftly.
Filling the vacant principal job at Theuerkauf is Michelle Williams, a Southern California educator who served as a vice principal and instructional coach at e3 Civic High, a charter high school in the San Diego Unified School District. District officials say Williams has experience launching literacy and social-emotional learning programs using online tools.
With the Thursday announcements, six of the district's 11 schools have had three principals since 2015: Graham and Crittenden middle schools, and Theuerkauf, Monta Loma, Mistral and Huff elementary schools. Vargas Elementary School, which opened in August last year, lost its first principal before it even opened.
The big staffing changes come just one week after Mountain View Whisman ditched the possibility of reopening schools and resuming in-person instruction next month. Schools will instead start the 2020-21 school year with a newly unveiled distance learning model, outlined at the July 23 school board meeting, that includes daily check-ins, check-outs, live instruction and small group work over Zoom. A newly recruited team of six teachers will be hired to develop recorded lessons for use by classroom teachers.