Who Are the Five New Principals on the Coast?

Here's a look at some of the new faces in the region and the changes some of them are making at local schools.

Five new principals grace schools on the Coast. The Cabrillo School District has four new principals, of a total of nine schools and programs, a new superintendent in Tony Roehrick and a new assistant superintendent in Elizabeth Schuck.

The La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District also features a new principal, with Pat Talbot taking over at Pescadero Middle and High Schools.

Different people bring different qualities with a uniqueness all its own. While changes appear imminent, the over-riding goal is in keeping their schools on the same track of success as their predecessors.

Here's a look at some of the new faces in the region:

Allison Silvestri, Half Moon Bay High School

Silvestri, who has taught at both Woodside and San Mateo high schools, never thought she would leave the classroom. Then she discovered the joys of working with a wider array of students and teachers.

She instituted one change in the dress code at the school: No hats in the classroom.

"I think everybody has responded well to it. I like the visibility of the faces. It's nice to look into their eyes," she said. "We want to cultivate the culture that has brought excellence and a valued leadership team to Half Moon Bay."

Silvestri has also instituted Orange and Black Fridays: "I have never seen so much orange and black apparel like I did today on site. Students and staff are looking great and the spirit is at an all time high," writes Silvestri in her Sept. 7, 2012, Principal's Blog.

Silvestri obtained her undergraduate degree in and a masters' degree at Boston College. She earned a second masters' degree at Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont in public administration.

"I was doing so much work outside the classroom that I realized I wanted to work with all students in a structured situation."

Pat Talbot, Pescadero Middle and High schools

Talbot is no stranger to the region. A San Francisco native, she has lived in Pescadero and worked for the La Honda - Pescadero Unified School District the past 24 years. She has previously served as principal at the Pescadero Elementary School.

Pescadero High School, with a unique student population of just over 100, uses a creative approach by dedicated staff to support each student in their journey in reaching their potential.  The school brings together students from La Honda, Pescadero, Loma Mar, and San Gregorio and is unlike any other in San Mateo County.

Talbot has been involved in the Pescadero Education Foundation from the start. She is instrumental in managing fundraising efforts for the Washington D.C. trip, and various activities that bring the community together.

As principal, Talbot says the school will be focusing on funding sources since the school district’s state improvement grants will expire.

Natalie Zisko, El Granada Elementary

"Let me begin by saying how excited I am to be a member of the El Granada School team. We have a dedicated staff that exemplifies a commitment to professional development and Professional Learning Communities. I am very proud of our teachers' collective experience and the spirit of teamwork on the El Granada campus. Without any hesitation, I can say that our students are truly fortunate to attend El Granada School.

"I believe that our greatest successes come when we lean on the wisdom of all the individual parts that make the whole. Part of what makes El Granada a great place to learn is that we are blessed with so many individuals that have the capacity to shine as leaders.

"As the new principal of El Granada School, it is my mission to maintain high academic and behavioral expectations for our students. This begins with increasing collegiality and communication on our campus with parents, teachers, administration, and fundraising groups. With a common vision and aligned resources, we can work together to provide the best learning environment for our children.

"I am proud of our student diversity on campus. Not only are we a racially diverse school, we are also privileged to have Special Day Class students on our campus. El Granada is a place where every child can learn. Each day we create community for children that will nurture them far beyond their years here.

"In this spirit of community, one of my initial changes on campus was in regard to student safety. I hope to increase student safety on campus by creating a safer crosswalk for our morning and afternoon foot traffic. My school day begins and ends by serving as a crossing guard with my fifth grade helpers. It is a great opportunity to talk with students and meet the families at our school. And, I am delighted that our crosswalk has become a safer place for children."

Joy Dardenelle, Farallone View Elementary

"Last year, the Planning to Plan Committee (a group of parents, administrators and staff) created a school vision along with parent and staff commitments. The work of this committee has set up a strong foundation that we will continue to build upon together as a community in supporting the needs of our students.

"As part of this commitment to the school vision, building strong relationships and communication with all members of our Farallone View community is on the top of my list this year. I will continue to support our dedicated staff, involved parents, and supportive community members in working together to promote the well-being and success of all students at our school."

Ladislao Lopez, Cunha Intermediate School

"There are great things happening at Cunha. We're building on the legacy of my predecessor, not necessarily changing things for the sake of change. We're in the process of evaluating student academic achievement data, identifying areas of growth and deciding how to move forward as a staff."

The former Salinas Union High School District assistant principal remains enthusiastic about developing curriculum to help students achieve success.

Lopez has vast experience in educational administration, school administration and classroom instruction at every level.

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