Palo Alto's longtime preK principal to retire | News | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto's longtime preK principal to retire

Sharon Keplinger to be replaced by Saratoga Union school psychologist

Longtime Palo Alto educator Sharon Keplinger is retiring from her post as the district's preK principal at the end of this school year, the district announced Monday.

In her 30-plus years in the district as a parent, educator and administrator, Keplinger has served on the Palo Alto Advisory Committee on Early Care and Education (PAAC-ECE) and on the board of The Mothers Symposium. As the district's preK principal, she has overseen Palo Alto Unified's early education programs, including Springboard to Kindergarten, Young Fives, PreSchool Family and Transitional Kindergarten, as well as the special-education programs offered by the district to preschool children.

Keplinger told the Weekly Monday that after 32 years at Greendell School, which houses all of the district's early childhood programs, it felt like the right time to retire.

"I say this all the time – I have loved my work here," she said. "Very few districts have been able to do what we've done here."

Keplinger, who has a master's degree in early childhood education from Stanford University, originally came to PreSchool Family as a parent in 1982. She was soon teaching the 18-30 month and "Fours" classes before succeeding Eleanora Jadwin as program coordinator in 1995, according to the program's website.

She was also named the 2015 Tall Tree Awards' "Outstanding Professional/Business Person" for the depth and breadth of her work with Palo Alto children and their families, through which she has advocated for the importance of early childhood learning.

Keplinger said she plans to spend retirement helping to take care of her 16-month-old granddaughter, traveling and teaching early childhood education classes at Canada College, which she has long done.

Dawn Yoshinaga, a school psychologist with the Saratoga Union School District since 1990, will take over Keplinger's post in the next school year. Yoshinaga comes with experience working with special-education students and families and has collaborated with teachers and families to create transitional programs between school levels to support students, the district said in a press release.

She has also led district efforts in training staff in accommodations, social-emotional learning, interventions, Common Core State Standards implementation and English Language Learner support systems. Yoshinaga completed a bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of California in Santa Cruz, a master's degree in clinical child and school psychology at California State University, East Bay and a master's in educational leadership at Santa Clara University.

"Educating our youngest minds is quite a privilege, and I am looking forward to continuing the tradition of excellence in early childhood education that has been nurtured by the parents, teachers, and staff at Greendell," Yoshinaga said in the release.

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10 people like this
Posted by Lydia Kou
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2015 at 8:21 am

Thank you Sharon for the many years enriching the children under your care. With great cheer and all the best wishes to you in your new adventures.

2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Harris
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Wow! Congratulations Sharon, and thank you doesn't even say it for all of us parents whose lives you've enriched over the years by taking care of us along with our kids. You are an amazing, tireless, generous and very smart educator whose dedication has been inspiring. Enjoy this next adventure . . . You deserve it.

4 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2015 at 3:33 pm

You have been an outstanding contributor to our city and the community around us.

Wish you well deserved happiest retirement!


2 people like this
Posted by Penny
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 19, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Sharon, you'll be missed. Our Preschool Family years were very happy ones for our family. Thank you for being a champion for young children, , for hiring talented teachers, for supporting such a rich learning environment for young children and new parents, and for being you!

Wishing you a wonderful retirement.

Like this comment
Posted by star
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2015 at 11:01 pm

I appreciate your dedication and wish you a well-deserved, happy retirement.

Welcome Ms. Yoshinaga!
"She has also led district efforts in training staff in accommodations, social-emotional learning, interventions, Common Core State Standards implementation and English Language Learner support systems."

That's great -- I hope you will be able to improve welcome for parents with disabilities in the program, probably the one area the program could stand to improve.

Glad to see this wonderful program will continue.

Like this comment
Posted by MIcaela Presti
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2015 at 11:14 pm

I can't thank you (and Ellen Rosenblum) enough for the year of Young Fives program that my children attended. You are a treasure. A small part of me feels sorry for future parents. However, your replacement sounds like she will be able to fill part of, if not all of, your shoes! I'm sure she understands the challenge she faces but I know you will support her in every possible way. I am so grateful for your leadership in the education of the youngest children in the district.

Like this comment
Posted by star
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2015 at 8:03 am

I do not know why the above poster's comment was made only visible to registered users. It was the most beautiful tribute of all of the above posts. I would recommend people log in to view it.

Like this comment
Posted by Susan Clark
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2015 at 7:36 pm

You have earned a retirement as rich as the value you have added to thousands of families-and their families in future generations.
Your steadfast dedication and commitment are a proud legacy of what education - at its best-can be.
Lee respected your high standards and fierce advocacy for early childhood education.
May your future be as significant as your career has been,
Susan Clark

Like this comment
Posted by Lionel
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 14, 2015 at 7:46 am

I hope that the next principal will be good at his job. This vacancy is very responsible and you can’t just hire anyone. I have met so many principals who did not love children. Of course, they just could not care about problems in writing (and, please, include here Web Link usage) and math, bad discipline, and other important factors. But everything comes to an end, so it is time to say good bye to everything and he is not an exception.

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