School district hires seven new administrators

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Wave Staff Report

CULVER CITY — The Culver City Unified School District has announced the hiring of seven new administrators as the district prepares to begin the 2021-22 school year.

The district has hired Angela Elizondo Baxter as the new director of teaching and learning, Katie Masterson as principal of Farragut Elementary School, Oscar Rodriguez as assistant principal at Culver City High School, David Holley as assistant principal at Culver City Middle School; Kana Nakagawa as assistant principal at El Rincon and La Ballona elementary schools, Brian Raber as assistant principal at Linwood E. Howe and Farragut elementary schools and Mario Torres as assistant principal at El Marino Language School.

Baxter has spent the past six years as principal at Willard IB Magnet Elementary School in the Pasadena Unified School District, where she increased African-American students reading at grade level by 21% in 2021 and was honored with the California Civic Learning Award of Distinction in 2019.

Prior to her time in Pasadena Unified School District, she served as principal of Santa Susana Elementary School in the Simi Valley Unified School District and as a content specialist in the Ventura County Office of Education.

“Dr. Baxter is an educational leader who has served as a teacher, instructional coach, district office coordinator, county office specialist, principal, and university literacy instructor,” said Assistant Superintendent Tracy Pumilia. “We are pleased to welcome her to the CCUSD family and know her contributions to the Ed Services team will benefit students throughout the district.”

Masterson returns to Culver City after spending the last two years as an assistant principal in the Wiseburn Unified School District, where she coordinated and directed school programs, including student attendance, student discipline, curriculum, counseling and guidance, extra-curricular activities, school budget and finance and facility maintenance.

Prior to that she served seven years as an elementary school teacher at Culver City schools.

“Katie is a passionate and innovative school leader who fosters teacher collaboration and builds strong school communities,” Pumilia said. “We are pleased to welcome her back to the CCUSD family and look forward to the positive impact she will have on the students, staff and school community at Farragut.”

Masterson earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration from Loyola Marymount University. She has also earned master’s degrees from Pepperdine University (education) and Loyola Marymount University (school administration).

Rodriguez was previously assistant principal at Inglewood High School in the Inglewood Unified School District, where he also served as an elementary school principal and assistant middle school principal. He began his career as an English and history teacher in 1999.

Rodriguez earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s degree in education from UCLA.

Holley was previously a physical education teacher and AVID coordinator at Culver City Middle School, where he was involved in schoolwide and site-based programs and teams that positively impacted students’ learning and improved the climate of the school. He first joined the district in 2016 and has also served as assistant program coordinator for the district’s summer enrichment program, department chair of Culver City Middle School’s physical education department and was a member of the school site council. Holley earned master’s degrees in both education administration and kinesiology from Cal State Long Beach.

Nakagawa has been a fourth-grade Japanese immersion program teacher at El Marino Language School since 2010. This summer, she served as the principal of La Ballona Elementary School’s English Language Summer Academy.

She is fluent in both English and Japanese and earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with a minor in Asian-Pacific studies from Loyola Marymount University, where she also earned a master’s degree in education and school administration.

Raber previously served as a resource specialist at both Old River Elementary School in Downey and Cesar Chavez Elementary School in San Francisco. He began his education career in 2005 and has experience as an elementary school teacher, including one year teaching English language development in Guadalajara, Mexico.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from San Diego State University and a master’s in education from UC Berkeley.

Torres previously served as assistant principal at both Joseph Weller and Burnett elementary schools in Milpitas. He also spent five years as a classroom teacher before moving into administration. Torres earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cal State Channel Islands and a master’s degree in digital teaching and learning technology and special education from Azuza Pacific University.

Holley, Nakagawa and Torres have already been approved unanimously by the Culver City school board. Rodriguez and Raber are expected to be formally approved by the board on Aug. 24.

All five have been authorized to begin work and will be on-site when the school year begins on Aug. 19.

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