When growing up in Laguna Beach, Vicki Schumacher enjoyed playing her clarinet as she marched in holiday parades. “I loved seeing family and friends along the way.”
Schumacher took the reins July 1 as superintendent of the Coast Unified School District, in a community with a similar small-town feel. She had been assistant superintendent of educational services at the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District.
During her college years studying music at UC Berkeley, Schumacher spent summers as a river guide in Oregon.
“As a guide, I worked hard with the team of passengers who were rowing, to make decisions about navigating the boat that kept everyone safe,” she said.
The leadership skills she developed on the river have been useful throughout her career.
She completed a master’s degree in education at Berkeley specializing in cognitive development in math instruction and then received a Ph.D. in education at UCLA, emphasizing literacy instruction.
The combination of arts, math and literacy is a good indicator of the rounded education she expects CUSD to provide its students. She’s a strong advocate of incorporating arts and athletics with academic disciplines to develop all parts of students’ lives.
As she begins her tenure, Schumacher has several things on her plate.
Her first project is to complete the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and budget.
California has established eight priority areas that must be addressed and tracked as part of LCAP. These include: access to basic services (credentialed teachers, aligned instruction materials and a safe environment) for all students, implementation of the Common Core State Standards, parent involvement, student achievement (test scores and proficiency measures), student engagement, school climate, access to a broad curriculum and other school outcomes. Currently Coast Unified boasts a good record along all these dimensions. But LCAP requires objective measures and continuous improvement.
Another project Schumacher has embarked upon is to develop a graduate profile.
The district will use the profile to map students’ educational experiences to the directions and careers they have chosen. For instance, they can map how tech-savvy graduates progressed from kindergarten through high school. What they learn from this exercise will help shape future curriculum.
In the past, Schumacher has partnered with universities, companies and foundations to enrich school programs.
Students more than doubled their scores on California Standards math tests through work with UCLA’s National Center for Research in Evaluation Standards and Student Testing.
She worked with Psomas.FNG, a solar engineering company, to establish an outdoor STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) laboratory. Another project partnered with the Irvine Foundation’s Linked Learning initiative, focusing on career pathways for high school students.
She’s looking forward to bringing similar initiatives to Coast Unified in the future.
When asked about her eventual legacy, Schumacher said, “I’d like to leave every student fully equipped to be successful as they move on to college and careers. Also, a rich part of being an adult is to be a connoisseur of the arts and to be fit.”
Who knows? When she experiences her first Pinedorado, she may watch one of the students in her charge preparing to grow up and become the next Vicki Schumacher.