Ryan Pinkerton, who has led Arroyo Grande High School for eight years, has announced that he has accepted a job with the San Luis Coastal Unified district.
Pinkerton, 40, became principal of his alma mater in 2003, where he oversees about 150 employees and 2,200 students.
“I think that Ryan is one of the best principals that we’ve ever had,” said Lucia Mar school board President Colleen Martin. “I would say one of the biggest things that Ryan accomplished at Arroyo Grande High was a whole turnaround of the culture, and bringing school spirit back.”
Pinkerton will start July 1 as director of personnel for the San Luis Coastal district, which has 15 schools, about 780 employees and 7,200 students. The school board still must approve Pinkerton’s hiring.
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Pinkerton’s salary has not yet been set; it will range from $115,000 to $140,000 depending on experience, said Russell Miller, assistant superintendent of business services.
Under Pinkerton’s leadership at Arroyo Grande High, the number of students taking advanced placement classes grew, test scores climbed and clubs such as Link Crew, which welcomes new students to the high school, flourished.
He also supervised a three-year, $21.3 million campus renovation completed in 2008. The renovation included a new pool, multipurpose room and cafeteria, a student services building and involved the remodeling of more than half of the classrooms.
Senior Ryan Brady said Pinkerton — sometimes called “Pink” by the students — is a visible, personable presence on campus who has tried “to make the campus a happier place for staff and students.”
“He’s really been a mentor to me,” said Brady, an Associated Student Body member. “He’s really encouraged me to grow as a leader by challenging me to try different things to make this campus better.” These included tasking Brady with researching options for a new sound system for the school, and supporting lunchtime activities led by the ASB in order to engage students.
Math teacher Kevin Statom, who was working at Arroyo Grande High when Pinkerton was a student, said the principal surprised some teachers at first with his over-the-top school spirit.
“He would paint his face in blue and gold for assemblies” or other events, Statom recalled. “He’s toned that down, but he’s pretty spirited.”
Before moving to Arroyo Grande High, Pinkerton served as assistant principal at Harloe Elementary and principal at Branch Elementary.
In May 2007, he surprised teachers and students by announcing that he planned to leave the high school and become principal of Ocean View Elementary. Nearly two months later, he decided to stay put.
Lucia Mar started advertising to fill his position Tuesday; it will close May 6, according to Michelle Ellis, assistant superintendent of human resources.
“I’ve had a great experience,” Pinkerton said. “The community here is fantastic, my staff is terrific. There are a lot of great things that I’m going to miss, especially the people, the kids.”
Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.