Pasadena Unified Names Don Benito Principal Julianne Reynoso as Executive Director, Elementary

Julianne S. Reynoso. Photo courtesy PUSD

The Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) today announced that Don Benito Fundamental Elementary School Principal Julianne S. Reynoso has been named Executive Director of the district’s elementary schools. She replaces Kathy Onoye, Ed.D., who retires July 31 after 43 years as an educator, administrator and teacher.

“Ms. Reynoso takes a position that is critical to the continued success of our elementary schools,” said Deputy Superintendent Brian MacDonald, Ed.D. “I am pleased to have her as part of our executive team that is working to achieve academic excellence for all students.”

As Executive Director of PUSD elementary schools, Reynoso will be responsible for managing the district’s elementary instruction, curriculum and professional development. Reynoso served as principal of Don Benito twice: in the 2004-2005 academic year and again since 2009. In between, she coordinated the district’s acclaimed Pasadena Math Pipeline, a professional development program for PUSD math teachers. She first joined PUSD in 1994 as a teacher at Cleveland Elementary and later moved to Hamilton Elementary and Franklin Elementary. Reynoso has a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University, a master’s degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College and an administrative credential from Azusa Pacific University.

“I look forward to continuing positive relationships with school administrators, teachers, staff, district leaders and the community to improve teaching and student outcomes and to ensure that the common core and 21st century learning initiatives are implemented effectively at all schools,” said Reynoso.

Dr. Kathy Onoye has served as the district’s Elementary Executive Director since 2008. Over the course of her four-decade career as an educator, Onoye spearheaded educational programs that have proven that every child — regardless of their socio-economic status — can learn and achieve at high levels. She was responsible for initiating what have become some of PUSD’s most vaunted programs: the dual language immersion programs in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, early education programs and the International Baccalaureate Programme.

“On behalf of the district, I am grateful to Dr. Onoye for her service and her championship of PUSD students,” said PUSD Superintendent Jon Gundry. “While I wish her wish her a well-deserved retirement, we will miss her expertise, knowledge and unflagging support for the students, teachers and staff of this district.”

As principal of Willard Elementary School, Onoye led the school’s historic closure of the achievement gap among all student groups by moving English learners, socio-economically disadvantaged student and other subgroups into academic proficiency. By combining inquiry-based learning practices with standards-based curriculum, she inspired teachers to delve deeply into subjects while meeting requirements to raise the school’s academic achievement. In 2004 Willard Elementary became the first school in PUSD and one of the first urban public schools in the country to earn authorization as an International Baccalaureate school.

Onoye began her career as a classroom teacher at PUSD’s Audubon Elementary School in 1971 and moved to Willard in 1975, where she remained until 2008.

“I would like to thank the students, teachers and fellow educators of PUSD for 43 years of inspiration and learning,” said Onoye. “It has been my privilege to work with colleagues who are deeply committed to teaching children so that they can succeed as adults.”

Along with her leadership positions in education, Onoye is a long-time Pasadena resident and takes an active interest in her community. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pasadena Educational Foundation, is clerk of the Board of Directors of All-Saints Church in Pasadena, serves on the advisory board of Young & Healthy and volunteers at Huntington Memorial Hospital. To honor Onoye for her service to the Pasadena Unified community, the Pasadena Educational Foundation has established the Kathy Onoye Principal’s Award to be awarded annually to a PUSD school principal for a specified project.

The search for a new Don Benito principal will begin immediately. Former Jefferson Elementary School Principal Jill Girod will serve as interim principal until the position is filled.

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