Whittier Union High School District

To Achieve and Maintain Excellence


Sandra Thorstenson - WUHSD Superintendent
Superintendent's Message

Spring 2016

As we approach the end of yet another successful school year, I am reminded of what a wonderful place Whittier Union is and the deep impact it has left on me both professionally and personally.

Whittier Union is the District from which I graduated. It is where I have spent the last 39 years as an educator working alongside the finest teachers, counselors, staff and administrators I have ever known, and helping to build a student-first culture of which I am especially proud of.

It has been a joy to witness our students’ successes, including those who have earned recognition and admiration for their perseverance and motivation, and those of our teachers who are making a statewide impact on education. These stories of fortitude are an inspiration to us in the education community to continue the work we are doing to ensure the well-being and academic excellence for our students.

In fact, this work has garnered the attention of Michael Fullan, an internationally respected educational researcher. As part of a three-year case study, he visited our District to observe how our collaborative culture boosts student achievement and professional growth.

Additionally, the valuable work of our teachers and staff on behalf of students will be featured in books authored by respected educators Rick DuFour and Ivannia Soto. It is gratifying that each of these leaders in our field has written about Whittier Union and has asked us to endorse their books.

It has been an exciting and transformative year for our District, and it will continue into the future.

As you know, over the next few months, our District will experience a number of changes, including my retirement and those of two instrumental pioneers, Whittier High School Principal Lori Eshilian and Assistant Superintendent Rich Russell, as well as the emergence of visionary leaders already working within Whittier Union.

My friend and colleague Martin Plourde, a talented educator and leader with whom I have worked for 15 years, will be Whittier Union’s next superintendent; Pioneer High School Principal Monica Oviedo and Santa Fe High School Principal Kevin Jamero will join his cabinet as assistant superintendents; Assistant Superintendent Loring Davies will support Whittier Union as Deputy Superintendent and three new principals will be coming on board.

It will be a transition, but one that will continue to build on the tremendous work and success Whittier Union is locally and nationally recognized for. Our District organizational culture, which thrives on the mantra that demographics do not determine destiny, is deeply rooted among teachers and staff, where collaboration and unity are the foundation of our students’ continual achievement.

I have loved being this District’s superintendent for 15 years, observing powerful teaching taking place in the classroom and seeing our students learning and preparing for the next step of their futures.

While it is difficult for me to say farewell to the place I love and the staff I have loved working with, I leave the District knowing that the leaders I have come to know and trust will ensure that Whittier Union flourishes for years to come.

Sandra Thorstenson


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