Classes are underway in the Goleta Union School District, and five campuses — Brandon, El Camino, Foothill, Hollister and La Patera — have new principals. Not all are newcomers to the district or to Santa Barbara County, however.
Former El Camino Principal Liz Barnitz moved to the district office as the director of instruction and assessment, leaving an opening for Sarah Bautista at the campus at 5020 San Simeon Drive.
Bautista was previously the principal at an elementary school in Tualatin, Ore., and moved to Santa Barbara County with her husband.
New to the Goleta district, Sonia Arnold-DeHay took over as principal at La Patera, 555 N. La Patera Lane, after Ricardo Araiza resigned. Arnold-DeHay had been an assistant principal at an elementary school in Palmdale, and worked in that district for almost 20 years.
For the past six years, Brandon, 195 Brandon Drive, thrived under Principal Felicia Roggero, who was moved to Foothill, 711 Ribera Drive, this school year.
Roggero is a long-time educator in the district; before becoming a principal, she was a classroom teacher as well as district coordinator of instructional media and technology. Her move was not without controversy as she was a favorite among Brandon School parents.
“As a parent, you get comfortable with your schooling and what’s happening with the site as well as education,” Roggero said. “You’re part of that community, and then when the change happens there is a sense of discomfort.”
She thinks fears will be eased when “principals and teachers start to bond and create a new community,” she said. “Things will start to have a familiarity. It takes time, but it will be better for everyone in the long run.”
As for her new campus, Roggero explained that while there are many differences, some aspects never change — especially the “school culture and positive energy.”
Roggero’s Foothill predecessor, Bridget Braney, moved to the district office as the new assistant superintendent of instructional services.
Ryan Sparre is now the Brandon principal, after having been at Hollister, 4950 Anita Lane, for 10 years and spearheading many new education advancements paired with technology.
First-time Principal Pamela Rennick followed Sparre at Hollister.
She has worked in the district for 23 years, including time as a classroom teacher at Isla Vista School, 6875 El Colegio Road; a Summer Learning Program principal; and coordinator of the district’s After-School Program.
Despite the chaotic first few weeks of school, things for the new principal have been going really well, Rennick said.
“This has been a goal of mine and now I’m taking a leap by becoming principal,” she said. “I was working in an administrative position to get experience for this.”
Rennick has been getting to know her new campus by visiting classrooms, reading to students as well as engaging in frequent staff and PTA meetings.