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.