Santa Rita Principal Sandra McGonagle was announced as the new principal of Blach School on April 2, following longtime LASD principal Leslie Crane's retirement.
Los Altos Patch asked her a few questions about moving up to the junior high school level.
Patch: Could you tell me a little bit about your history in education?
Sandra McGonagle: I've been at Santa Rita for 2 years now. Prior to that, I spent 12 years in the Cupertino Union School District. During that time I was an Assistant Principal, I worked at the district office for two years mentoring new middle school teachers and providing professional development, and spent many years as a middle school teacher.
Patch: What do you like about Blach and what do you feel needs improvement?
McGonagle: I have heard nothing but great things about Blach and its community. At this point, I don't know enough to answer this question. My goal is to spend the start of the year getting to know the students, staff, and community to better understand how we can work together to realize the district vision at Blach.
Patch: What will you miss about being the principal at Santa Rita?
McGonagle: I will miss the entire community tremendously. This is such a welcoming and diverse community, and I have felt honored to be their educational leader. Within school specifically, I will miss seeing the smiling faces and the great projects and programs that are just getting started all over campus. This is an amazing school, full of amazing people.
Patch: What are you preparing yourself for as you transition from an elementary school position to a junior high school position?
McGonagle: I am simply trying to get up to speed on how Blach runs right now. I have already met the staff as a whole, will be meeting with them individually after Spring Break, and will meet the parents at a PTA meeting in April. I anticipate a very smooth transition and feel confident that we'll have a great start for the kids in August.
Patch: Did you apply for the position or were you recommended?
McGonagle: I formally applied for the position and went through the typical interview/hire process. It was not news to my colleagues that ultimately I wanted to move to the junior high level.
Patch: What was the application process like?
McGonagle: I completed the application packet, had a first interview with a panel of Blach staff, parents, and district reps, then a second with the Administrative team, then a meeting with the Board of Trustees and Superintendent.
Patch: How will you deal with any conflicts or misunderstandings the coming year as Blach experiences its first year sharing the campus with BCS?
McGonagle: My goal for working with BCS is to have a cordial working relationship so that any conflicts or misunderstandings can be resolved quickly. I want to make sure that the Blach community is well taken care of during the year and that the sharing schedule is thoughtful.
Patch: What would you say to the new principal at Santa Rita who fills your shoes?
McGonagle: I would share that he or she is fortunate to work with a thriving community who appreciates innovation in education.
Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
McGonagle: Even though I will miss the staff, students, and parents at Santa Rita, I am prepared and thoroughly excited about my move to Blach.