Lifelong Educator Rolls Up Sleeves in First Term

Shelley Ryan
Shelley Ryan

Entering the final year of her first term, Shelley Ryan is ready to make her mark as president of the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education.

Ryan, a lifelong educator, said she is especially looking forward to seeing continued changes to the structure and content of the classrooms as SMUSD proceeds on its path of excellence.

“In that area, I am really excited about all the innovation and changes that are happening at San Marino Unified,” she said in a phone interview. “It includes the state Common Core standards, implementing new curriculum in English language arts and math. Now NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) is coming in. Next year it will be social science.”
In her focus on the usual “three As” in academics, athletics and arts, Ryan said she hopes to focus on amplifying them by incorporating more “21st century education” into the mix, such as modifying classrooms to help facilitate different styles of lessons or increasingly computer-centric learning. Ryan also had eyes on the district’s developing student wellness center.
“We’re looking at shoring up and making sure our kids are not just graduating academically prepared but socially and emotionally prepared,” she said. “We need to look at those things within the classroom. For example, how do you get computer literacy if you have problems getting all the
plugins for our laptops? There’s lots of exciting things. I wouldn’t say there’s one area. There are many goals and I will at least look into them within my first 100 days.”
Ryan, who has lived in San Marino for 22 years, has worked in Alhambra Unified School District for the past 33 years and is in her first year as an assistant principal at Ynez Elementary School. She raised two of her children in SMUSD and found herself involved at their schools along the way. She eventually joined higher profile groups like SMUSD’s Academic Advisory Committee and ultimately found herself successfully running for school board in 2013.
“I kind of came up through the grades. In the high school, I really rolled up my sleeves and did much more,” she said.
In taking on the role of president this coming year, Ryan said she feels comfortable working with her colleagues on the board as well as the various interest groups in the community to make things happen. Making the district better, after all, isn’t solely her agenda.
“I have great school board members who have started the goals that align with the vision of our school district,” she said. “All the pieces have to fit together and we’re in a highly affluent community which allows us to really, really help the kids excel, because teachers and parents have high expectations.
“We are constantly looking at our finances and budgets,” Ryan added. “We are constantly looking at ways to better serve our kids and our schools. We need to sustain that support because as we move forward, there are lots and lots of areas that can be improved.”
Being an educator with school administrative experience yields Ryan a unique perspective on the school board in her own community, she admitted. She said it helps her build better relationships with SMUSD’s personnel and know how to make a difference for them.
“At the administrative level, I’m looking at the day-to-day running of the school — maybe assemblies, discipline, how to support the students, parent engagement, those kinds of things,” she said. “While I will look at budgets here at my work, that budget is different form the ones I look at on the board level. It’s more top-down here.”

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