Ohlone Elementary principal announces retirement

Pre-K principal Dawn Yoshinaga to move into position

The latest in a flurry of leadership changes for the Palo Alto school district comes from Ohlone Elementary School, where Principal Nicki Smith announced her retirement in a message to families on Wednesday.

Smith has served as principal since 2014, when she took over for longtime principal Bill Overton. Before that, she was a reading specialist at Ohlone for three years.

Dawn Yoshinaga, who became principal of Greendell School in 2015, will become Ohlone's new principal, Smith wrote in her message. Previously, Yoshinaga had worked as a school psychologist in the Saratoga Union School District since the 1990s. She came with experience working with special-education students and families as well as in training staff in accommodations, social-emotional learning, interventions, Common Core State Standards implementation and English Language Learner support systems, according to a district announcement at the time.

"Ohlone is a wonderful school and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to be a part of it," Smith wrote. "Knowing that you will be in good hands, I can leave to be with my husband who has been waiting patiently for the past three years, for us to have time for travel and to enjoy our children and grandchildren."

Yoshinaga's professional focus on the emotional well-being of young children "make(s) her the perfect fit for Ohlone," Superintendent Max McGee wrote in a separate message to Ohlone families on Wednesday.

Ohlone, one of the district's choice school programs, emphasizes a whole-child approach to education, self-directed learning and other philosophies often referred to as the "Ohlone way." The school also houses the district's Mandarin immersion program.

McGee did not say who would replace Yoshinaga at Greendell, which includes the district's pre-kindergarten programs.

McGee called Smith a "fantastic leader who has made tremendous contributions to the field of education and the lives of countless of children for more than three decades."

Smith did not immediately return a request for comment.

Yoshinaga's appointment is effective July 1.

Smith's announcement follows the news that the principal of Terman Middle School, Pier Angeli La Place, has requested to be reassigned elsewhere for the next school year, and that the principal of Jordan Middle School, Katie Kinnaman, will be moving out of the state at the end of the year. The district is also looking to fill several key positions at the district office, including assistant superintendent for human resources, special education director and a proposed new high school chief academic officer.


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13 people like this
Posted by SR
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 20, 2017 at 11:09 am

Our family thanks you for your service, Nicki. Enjoy your retirement! We look forward to welcoming Ms. Yoshinaga to the Ohlone community.

Like this comment
Posted by Two years too late
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm

[Post removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by Mediocrity
a resident of Terman Middle School
on May 4, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Nikki Smith was a poor choice for any school. She was a nice person, but she just didn't bring anything unique to the table.

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