SLO High principal retiring after 25 years with SL Coastal district

Will Jones
Will Jones

Will Jones, longtime principal of San Luis Obispo High School, will retire this month after more than two decades with the school district.

Jones, who taught Advanced Placement English before becoming an administrator, spent 22 of his 25 years working for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District at the high school. He was principal there for nine years.

“Will is seen as a father figure to everybody here,” Dean Kyle Pruitt said. “He created a really strong sense of community for the students, their families and the staff. Everyone felt a part of what it means to be at San Luis Obispo High School.”

Jones, 62, said he felt it was the right time for a leadership change at the school.

Leslie O’Connor of Bakersfield Joint Unified School District was recently named as Jones’ replacement. O’Connor has a background in advanced placement history, civics and English and was most recently a director of categorical programs.

Two of the most dramatic changes over the past two decades, Jones said, are the intensity of the academic program offered and the level of competition for students to do well in school in order to qualify for college.

“I’m not sure that is always the healthiest thing,” Jones said, “but it is a reality these days.”

A continued focus on academic achievement for all students, including an increasing number of English learners and students who are economically disadvantaged, will be the focus in future years, he said.

Jones said he is proud of the school district’s ability to maintain a strong applied arts program while such opportunities are disappearing from schools across the state.

“There has to be a balance of strong academics that meet needs of all the students and also elective programs that help kids stay connected to school,” he said.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.