District Hires Strategic Administrators

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With emphasis on new learning standards and student discipline, three new school administrators, an assistant superintendent, the director of human resources and an assistant high school principal were officially hired by the school board Tuesday.

Darlene Messinger is the district’s new assistant superintendent, Leisa Winston is the new human resources/public communications director and Lisa Brackez is the high school’s assistant principal.

Messinger will specialize in instruction and curriculum under the direction of Superintendent Sherine Smith.  She will oversee how teachers will instruct students to meet new national curriculum standards now being implemented, known as the Common Core State Standards.  The new standards are meant to bring students in this country up to par with the technological knowledge of students in other countries, particularly Asian countries, and apply that knowledge to math and science as well as reading and other liberal arts lessons.

Messinger is leaving Saddleback Valley Unified School District, where she has been implementing the new teaching standards.  Prior to that, she headed up instructional services for the Orange County Department of Education and was an elementary principal in the Tustin Unified School District.

Messinger replaces Deni Christensen, a former colleague of Smith’s from the Capistrano Unified School District who was employed at LBUSD for a year and left in the wake of criticism of district hiring practices.  She returned to an administrative position with the Capo district.  Messinger begins on Sept. 23. Smith said she was selected due to her experience in curriculum and instruction, pertinent to the new national standards.

Winston, LBUSD’s new personnel director, currently works in a similar position in the Westminster school district, where she represents the district in negotiations with staff and teachers.  She also oversaw special education programs in that district.

Before working in Westminster, Winston was a special education program specialist in the Capistrano Unified School District.

Winston was singled out due to her familiarity with the education code and school law, according to a district press release.  She began her career as a special education teacher in Michigan. She will begin at LBUSD in the next few weeks.  She replaces Gerald Vlasic, a former elementary school principal in the Capistrano district, who resigned after a year with LBUSD.

Brackez, the new high school assistant principal in charge of student services and curriculum, was also a high school assistant principal in Arizona, where she worked with curriculum and assessment as well as the International Baccalaureate program.

“What she brings that’s new or special,” said high school principal Joanne Culverhouse, “is that she…has also held the role of assistant principal in charge of discipline and attendance.”

Brackez started teaching math in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. She begins at the high school on Monday, Sept. 16.

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