After eight years as architect of Laguna Beach schools’ technology infrastructure, Victor Guthrie is off to a far-away land for something not so different.
With hotter climes, a metropolitan culture and an attractive contract to lure him, Guthrie, 37, said he accepted a position as technology director for a private international school in Abu Dhabi, the capital and second-largest city in the United Arab Emerates. Guthrie’s wife, Amber, will also take a new position as instructional aid for a kindergarten class at the same school, the high-ranking American Community School.
Guthrie, whose resignation is effective Aug. 1, informed administrators and school board members last week. His email said he held off informing officials until other developments transpired: a $150,000 donation to upgrade the district’s internet infrastructure and a court hearing involving a wrongful termination lawsuit by a teacher.
Administrators expect to upgrade the district’s wireless system throughout its four schools before Guthrie’s departure. “While we are sad to see Victor leave, we are happy that he and his wife will have this wonderful professional and personal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity abroad in Dubai,” said Gerald Vlasic, the district’s director of human resources and public communications.
Guthrie said he was unaware of the American Community School’s prestige until after he became a candidate for the position. He visited the city and was impressed with its relaxed sophistication as well as plans to bring Guggenheim and Louvre satellite museums to the city in 2014.
Guthrie said his particular combination of skills made him stand out in a global recruitment pool. “I do possess both the ability to communicate technical things in nontechnical terms,” he said. “Yet, I’m also, like here in the district, I am the network architect. I design the infrastructure that nobody really sees. Having both of those skills is a little bit of a differentiator for me.”
Abu Dhabi, a T-shaped island off the Persian Gulf, was rated as the richest city in the world by Fortune magazine and CNN in 2007.
American Community School currently enrolls 1,100 students with a waiting list of 700, said Guthrie. The majority of the students, 58 percent, are American and the school’s website states that it teaches a “challenging college-preparatory American curriculum.”
“They’re also pretty technologically advanced. They have a one-to-one program (each student uses a laptop) like we’re building into,” Guthrie added. Tuition at ACS is $18,000 a year for a high school student, $10,000 a year for a kindergarten student and $15,000 a year for each elementary through middle school student.
Guthrie, born in San Diego and whose grandparents emigrated from Italy, said he’s looking forward to the adventure.
“One of my fears,” he said, “is that sometimes when you’re born in southern California, you go to school in southern California, you believe the entire world is in southern California.
“I truly believe that we’re citizens of a global community. I really resonate with the idea that the world is as small or as large as you’d like to make it. Having the opportunity to go half-way around the world, it just really appealed to me.”