Santa Monica-Malibu School District Welcomes New Principal, Assistant Principals

Thursday, 15 Aug 2013, 8:25:00 AM

Brenton Garen

One new principal and two new assistant principals have joined the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District following the Board of Education's nod of approval Wednesday night.

The board approved the

appointment of Annette Mendoza as the new Principal of Will Rogers

Learning Community, Rebecca

Chu Ngo as the new Assistant Principal of John Adams Middle School, and Elizabeth Cochran as the new Assistant Principal of Will Rogers

Learning Community and Grant Elementary School.

Superintendent Sandra Lyon said the district had been engaged in a search for a Will Rogers principal for the past five months.

"Although there

were many talented, capable

candidates interviewed, it took us some time to find the right person

to lead the Will Rogers Learning Community," Lyon said. "We have now found that


Lyon said the new assistant principal at John Adams Middle

School received a principal appointment in another

district, leaving another important empty seat as the school year started. 

"Fortunately, due to the quality candidates from outside and inside the

district, we now have a plan that will ensure our schools have continuity and high quality individuals in the administrative roles,” Lyon said. “Ms.

Mendoza is an experienced school administrator who is ready to take

over the helm of Will Rogers Learning Community. Her

background and perspective

will be complemented by Ms. Cochran’s amazing experience and strong

connection to the Will Rogers and Grant staffs; her role in the district

for the past four years, and experience working with teachers at both

schools, will serve our communities well."

Lyon said Ngo was an experienced assistant principal with a strong instructional

background who will be a "wonderful asset for the JAMS community.”

Annette Mendoza 

Mendoza comes to SMMUSD from the East Whittier City School District,

where she has been serving as the assistant principal of Orchard Dale

Elementary School for the past four years. 

Prior to that, Ms. Mendoza

served as the assistant principal at Laurel Elementary School, Mulberry

Elementary School, Scott Avenue Elementary School, and

Leffingwell Elementary School.

She also served as a school psychologist, learning specialist, and taught kindergarten, second, fourth, and fifth grades.

As assistant principal, she and her peers focused on student

learning and creating a culture of high expectations to help their Title

I school raise its API score 86 points over four years.

Mendoza has taught and been a leader in elementary schools with ethnically and academically diverse student populations.

The school where she most recently served as assistant principal

was recognized by the California Business for Education Excellence

(CBEE) for its STEM program. She is bilingual in English and Spanish. 

Mendoza is well-versed in implementing best practices to close the

achievement gap, emphasizing the importance of well-prepared,


teachers who share in decision-making, collaboration, curriculum

alignment, development of thoughtful assessments, and on-going analysis

of student achievement data.

She believes in an integrated approach to delivering instruction in a student-centered environment. 

Rebecca Chu Ngo

Ngo has been serving as assistant principal at Will Rogers Learning

Community and Grant Elementary School for the past two years.

She has also served as assistant principal at Roosevelt Elementary School.

Prior to joining SMMUSD, Ngo taught second and third grades in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

As assistant principal, Ngo worked with the principal, staff,

parents, and community members to articulate and implement a vision of

education that supports the whole child.

She managed the academic progress, discipline, attendance, and

overall educational experience for over 1,100 students at Grant

Elementary and Will Rogers Learning Community.

She led an initiative to train teachers and parents to promote

and maintain a positive school climate, coordinated the GATE program,

worked with therapists and interns to provide school-based counseling

services for students, and trained and organized

volunteers in Cool Tools to support classroom instruction, PTA

functions, and academic programs.

Ngo was an integral part in developing a school-wide Response to Intervention Program to meet the needs of every student.

Ngo is well-versed in implementing best practices to close the

achievement gap, having developed and implemented Reading and Writing


models, collaborated with teachers to differentiate reading instruction

for all learning types, and created testing strategies to move students

to proficient and advanced on state standardized tests.

She is also experienced in special education, having coordinated

Student Study Teams and worked closely with the Special Education

Department to implement a new special education services delivery model.

Ngo received National Board Certification in 2009. 

Elizabeth Cochran

Cochran has been the literacy coordinator with SMMUSD for the past four years. 

Prior to that, she was the Early Literacy Assessment

Manager, Central Office Instructional Technology Coordinator, Area

Instructional Technology Coordinator, and Department of Online Learning

Content Editor for the Chicago Public Schools.

She has taught preschool, kindergarten, and first, second, and fourth grades in Los Angeles and Chicago.

As  literacy coordinator, Cochran designed and delivered

professional development in literacy and the new Common Core Standards.

She has managed the implementation of districtwide literacy assessments and supported teachers with Response to Intervention strategies.

Her experience as an instructional technology coordinator has

prepared her for the opportunity to build upon and refine the STEM work

currently in place at Will Rogers Learning Community. 

Cochran is well-versed in the best practices for effective teaching to achieve high levels of learning for all students.

She has worked closely with administrators and teachers across

our district, including Grant Elementary School and Will Rogers Learning

Community, to create professional development tailored to each school’s


Cochran has collaborated extensively with staff, especially

at Will Rogers, to design targeted reading instruction for students,

helping to create an innovative and sustainable educational program.


is excited to work with Grant and

Rogers staff to continue their work in guiding students to

think critically, solve complex problems, and be inspired by the world

around them.

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