Retirements prompt personnel changes at Atascadero schools

Atascadero Unified School District is playing a game of musical chairs this month and next, as some seasoned administrators step down and others shift to new positions.

Michelle Andre, the district’s director of student intervention services, retired May 1 after 29 years with Atascadero Unified. She was replaced by Lori Thomas Hicks, who stepped down from her position as principal of Atascadero Junior High School.

Thomas Hicks said her new job, which she started May 7, will involve overseeing “the gamut of specialized services for our students,” including learning centers and professional development.

The administrator, who joined Atascadero Unified in 1990, spent eight years as principal of Santa Rosa Elementary School and five years leading the junior high school.

Taking over as Atascadero Junior High’s new principal is Jessica Lloyd, who joined the district in 2000. She taught at Monterey Road, San Benito and Santa Margarita elementary schools and Santa Rosa Academic Academy before becoming prevention coordinator at the junior high school in 2011.

Lloyd, who recently served as interim principal at San Gabriel Elementary School, said the biggest challenges in store for Atascadero Junior High are the continued implementation of Common Core state standards and a massive modernization project scheduled to begin in the summer of 2015.

“This is a major undertaking and will require adjustment and flexibility to some degree on everyone’s part,” Lloyd wrote in an email. She started her new job on May 7.

In addition, two Atascadero Unified principals are retiring this summer.

San Benito Elementary School Principal Joanne Rogoff steps down June 30 after seven years at the school.

She taught for the Lucia Mar Unified School District between 1979 and 1996 before working for the county Office of Education for nine years. (Rogoff said her biggest accomplishment was bringing the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program to San Luis Obispo County.)

She also served as principal of Carrisa Plains and Creston Elementary schools for two years.

“I’m not ready to stop working completely, but I would like to have less on my plate,” said Rogoff, who is considering mentoring at Atascadero Unified and Cal Poly in the future.

Kirk Smith will retire as principal of the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy and Monterey Road Elementary on June 30. The move comes after an eight-year stint with Paso Robles Joint Unified School District and 29 years with Atascadero Unified, which included five years as Atascadero Junior High principal.

Smith spent four years as principal of the Fine Arts Academy and five years as principal of Monterey Road Elementary. He said the district will seek to find a full-time principal for Monterey Road Elementary, while his replacement at Fine Arts will continue to split time between campuses.

“I had no intention of retiring this year, (but) an opportunity came up that didn’t exist before,” Smith said, although he declined to share more.

District officials said Atascadero Unified is in the process of hiring new principals and plans to announce replacements “in the near future.”