LBUSD News Roundup

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By Daniel Langhorne, Special to the Independent

TOW Principal Appointed Human Resources Director

TOW Principal Michael Conlon with a TOW family and the Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for English Language Development, Yadhira Rojas (left). Conlon was appointed director of human resources by the school board on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of LBUSD.

Top of the World Elementary School Principal Michael Conlon was appointed director of human resources by the school board on Tuesday.

The new position was approved by the school board July 16 to exclusively manage day-to-day operations in Human Resources in a restructuring of the district’s administration. Prior to July 2012, Human Resources and Instructional Services staffers were led by one position that oversaw both departments. Instructional Services subsequently had its own administrator until former Assistant Superintendent Alyssa Odipo resigned June 30.

Her duties were taken on by Leisa Winston with her promotion to deputy superintendent of human resources and instructional services. Winston also oversees the district’s communications with the public and press.

Conlon has extensive experience in education administration, including roles at Saddleback Valley Unified School District and Los Alamitos Unified School District. He has served as Top of the World principal since 2014.

“I am excited about this opportunity and look to draw on my past experience in system implementation and change leadership to further enhance the services provided to the district through the department of human resources,” Conlon said in a statement. “It has been an honor serving as the principal at Top of the World Elementary and I look forward to continuing my support of the campus in this new role.”

District OKs $6K for College Admission Essay Tutor

The Laguna Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education approved spending $6,000 from Laguna Beach High School’s budget on Tuesday to bring to an Arizona State University English professor to share strategies for writing college admissions essays with about 180 students.

Kyle Jensen, director of writing programs at Arizona State University, will visit Laguna Beach High for up to two days to speak at creative writing classes and provide an after-school presentation to parents and students before Oct. 1.

Superintendent Jason Viloria said Jensen reached out the District about retaining his writing expertise, adding he thought English teacher Dawn Hunnicutt’s creative writing students might benefit from his visit.

“The one thing in our conversation…that stood out was his willingness to do a tips and tricks with our students, specifically our seniors and our juniors, after school and their parents on things to do when you’re writing your college admission essays,” Viloria said. “Oftentimes, it’s a challenging thing for our students to think about—What it is I should be doing? How should I write this?”

Jensen earned his PhD in English studies from Illinois State University and a Master of Arts from Western Washington University. He authored “Reimagining Process: Online Writing Archives and The Future of Writing Studies” and co-edited two other books.=

 El Morro Aide Named 2019 ‘Spirit of Laguna’

El Morro Elementary instructional assistant Brandon Lee gets a hug from Director of Special Education Irene White. Lee is the 2019 recipient of the Spirit of Laguna Award. Photo courtesy of LBUSD
El Morro Elementary instructional assistant Brandon Lee with elementary school staff. Photo courtesy of LBUSD

El Morro Elementary instructional assistant Brandon Lee is the 2019 recipient of the Spirit of Laguna Award, which has recognized school staffers’ extraordinary service for the past 12 years.

Lee acts as El Morro’s lead instructional assistant and is a member of the Crisis Prevention Intervention team at the school. He also serves on the District Safety Committee and the labor negotiations team for the classified employees’ bargaining unit.

“He has a unique way of building connections with the students he serves by focusing on their strengths and building on them,” El Morro Principal Chris Duddy wrote in a statement. “It doesn’t hurt that he loves music and isn’t afraid to dance in front of the kids.” 

Duddy added that Lee is always very engaged in his duties, happy to be at school, and builds meaningful relationships with students and fellow staffers.

In addition to his work at his school site, Lee also serves on district-wide committees including the District Safety Committee and the labor negotiations team for the classified employees union.

Lee came to the school district as an instructional assistant in 2013. He was recognized with the Spirit of Laguna Award at the district’s annual Welcome Back Breakfast for staff earlier this month.

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