School Board Picks Arcadia Administrator as New Superintendent

Jeff  Wilson
Jeff Wilson

The San Marino Unified School District’s new superintendent, who faces formal approval by the school board next week, won’t have to change his daily commute much once he starts work.
After the final round of closed-session interviews and discussion, the board last week decided on Jeff Wilson, the assistant superintendent of educational services for the Arcadia Unified School District, as its next top executive, pending a background check and contract negotiations. According to the district, Wilson is slated to be SMUSD’s 14th superintendent since 1918.
“Working essentially next door in Arcadia all of these years, I’ve paid close attention to and have greatly admired the students and staff of San Marino,” Wilson said in a prepared statement in which SMUSD announced the hire. “They are truly doing impressive work. I can’t wait to start working with them now and learning from them about how we can work together to continue to offer a premier education to our students.”
School board President Lisa Link described Wilson as a “natural communicator” who is highly visible as a leader and easily accessible for staff.
“Based on community input received and our collective experience in understanding the needs of San Marino Unified, the board looked for an administrator who not only is experienced in providing exceptional educational services but who also is personable, collaborative and a positive and visionary instructional leader,” Link said, also in a prepared statement. “Dr. Wilson brings all of those qualities in addition to his vast experience in a similar school district with high-achieving students and high educational aspirations.”
A Glendora native, Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Cal State Fullerton, a master’s degree in divinity from Biola University and a doctorate in education from Azusa Pacific University.
Wilson, who was a teacher in Pasadena before relocating to Maui, Hawaii, to work in hospitality, returned to Southern California in 1998 to join Covina-Valley Unified School District, where he was a teacher, assistant principal and principal at Traweek Middle School. He moved on to AUSD in 2008, starting as a principal at First Avenue Middle School before being promoted to assistant superintendent in 2014.
“Dr. Wilson has been an integral part of our school district for the past 10 years,” said AUSD Superintendent David Vannasdall in a statement. “I’m very proud of him and can’t thank him enough. His innovation, compassion for students and knowledge of curriculum are second to none. We’re going to miss him, but we are very fortunate for his years of dedicated service, and we are a much better school district because of him.”
Pending the board’s approval of the hire, which will be on the agenda of a meeting next week, Wilson’s first day will officially be July 1, with interim Superintendent Loren Kleinrock finishing out the school year. Wilson will replace Alex Cherniss, who departed in September to become superintendent of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District after more than four years with SMUSD.
Wilson inherits a school district routinely ranked as the best-performing in the state per academic evaluations in spite of the minimal state funding it receives, given its small size. School board members said from the beginning they hoped to target candidates with a track record of success, and they may have hit the mark here: AUSD, too, has performed in the top percentile of California’s school districts in recent years.

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