Two school administrators in the Mountain View Whisman School District announced Thursday that they will resign at the end of the month, creating turnover during an uncertain time as schools seek to reopen in the fall.
Gloria Higgins, the principal at Monta Loma Elementary School, said she will be leaving the school district at the end of the month to lead a school in Redwood City. Mistral Elementary School Principal Tabitha Miller also announced her resignation effective next week, with plans to relocate to the East Coast in order to work closer to her family.
Higgins, who has deep roots in Mountain View schools as a former school board member -- later becoming Monta Loma's principal in 2016 -- said she has mixed emotions about parting ways with the school district. She will be heading up the Peninsula to work at Sandpiper School, a K-8 school in Redwood City, which she described as an innovative campus with a project-based learning model.
"I am proud of all we have accomplished at Monta Loma, and I am confident staff will continue to serve our students and community well," Higgins said. "Monta Loma is truly a special place."
Higgins has been a Mountain View resident for decades and grew up in a military family, which district officials said made her a perfect fit for Monta Loma. The school has a history of serving students from military families serving at Moffett Field, and the majority still attend Monta Loma.
Miller joined Mistral Elementary -- home to the district's Dual Immersion language program -- in 2018 during a major reshuffling of school administrators. Mistral underwent significant changes during her two-year stint at the school, adopting a new math curriculum and reconfiguring the dual-language program to prioritize early English language acquisition for Spanish-speaking students.
Miller said it has been a "great privilege" working with students, families and educators in Mountain View, and touted 2019 test scores as proof of the school's performance growth. Of the students still learning English, 42% met state standards for English language arts -- compared with 21% in the prior year -- and more students reclassified as fluent in English during the same year. Overall scores at the school have been flat over the last three years.
"While I am proud of the work we have done, my family must come first, so I am pursuing another leadership opportunity on the East Coast," Miller said in an email.
The two resignations add to what has already been high administrative turnover in the district over the last four years, with an ongoing churn of top district staff, principals and assistant principals that has affected nearly every campus in the district. Every school except for Bubb and Castro Elementary will now have at least one new principal since 2018, and Vargas Elementary School lost its principal before it even opened in fall 2019.
The most recent round of resignations comes during uncertain times, as schools have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Heading into the summer, school officials are grappling with how to recover lost learning time during the rocky transition to distance learning during the final months of the school year, and it's unclear what reopening will look like in the fall.
State and county officials have been quiet on when precisely public schools will be able to reopen their doors, but have been clear that social distancing and public health restrictions will be mandatory. The rollout could include a "hybrid" approach in which some instruction takes place on campus and at home.
District officials did not provide details on the hiring process for replacing the principals at Mistral and Monta Loma.