Coincidence has nothing to do with the fact that a handful of the teachers and staff at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District have remained the same in the 30 years since Scott Cory graduated from the rural high school.
They come to the valley, they love the valley, and so they stay, Cory told Noozhawk.
In his case, Cory left the valley after graduating in 1983, and recently returned home for some of the same reasons to lead the high school district as superintendent.
“I could not have scripted this,” Cory said, laughing at his good luck. “What a blessing to be here all these years later.”
The new superintendent will find out just how fortunate he is when students return to school on Wednesday.
Cory, 48, took over the job in July from departing former Santa Barbara schools administrator Paul Turnbull.
Since then, Cory has experienced a wave of déjà vu as he reconnects with familiar faces — his parents, Gary and Judy Cory, still live in the valley home where he grew up —and some new ones who likely have already heard at least a little about him while living in the small town off Highway 246.
In need of a change, Cory said the timing was perfect for his family to make the move from their Northern California home in Plumas County, where he was serving as principal of Chester Junior and Senior High School in the Plumas Unified School District in Chester.
“It’s about coming home,” Cory said of many indicators to return. “It’s about my parents still being here.”
He was more than happy to turn over his snow clean-up equipment for a chance to put his 25 years of experience as a teacher and administrator — also spent in the Clovis Unified and Beardsley school districts — to work for the 918 students at his alma mater.
“I found something to love about kids at each level,” Cory said of having worked with all grade levels at some point in his career.
Cory understands the importance of time spent in high school. He recalls that his interest in teaching began at the urging of others when he was still a student.
The high academic expectations of the district, however, are recognizable.
Cory said he intends to continue that tradition as he leads the district through Common Core standard changes, and a budding need for 21st century learning skills and global-minded student success.
He’s excited for his wife of 24 years, Brinda, to experience his hometown, along with their three children: Seth, 21, Addison, 19, and Paige, 18.
Paige will be a senior this fall at the Santa Ynez high school.
“That’s pretty special,” Cory said. “Good stuff is coming. It’s an honor to be back.”