Schools - July 13, 2011

Woodside School names superintendent/principal

by Renee Batti

Woodside Elementary School has a new superintendent/principal: Elizabeth (Beth) Polito will pull up stakes from her job as assistant superintendent of educational services in the Saratoga Union School District to begin work in the local one-school district on Aug. 1.

In a unanimous vote, the school board appointed Ms. Polito during a special meeting on July 8, announcing the choice in a written statement.

Ms. Polito, who holds a doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco, held her current position as assistant superintendent for four years. Before that, she was a teacher, dean of students, vice principal, and principal at Redwood Middle School in the Saratoga district for a total of 14 years.

The new superintendent will make $183,000 annually. She fills the post held since mid-2008 by Diana Abbati, who resigned June 30 to become superintendent of the Los Gatos Union School District.

"Dr. Polito's leadership in the areas of mathematics, gifted and talented education, support for English language learners, and use of technology and data to inform/improve instruction all led to positive changes in her district," the written statement said.

Board President Bettina Pike told the Almanac that what came across during the interview with Ms. Polito was "her vision of how to educate each individual child within the public school system."

She said the board will look to the new superintendent to continue on the track established over the last few years by sound leadership. "Woodside is in the best shape we've been in years," she said, adding that she doesn't think there are any significant problems that need fixing.

Ms. Polito said early this week that she is excited to be moving into a position in which she will be with children every day, after having spent the last four years in a district office. And because the school is small, "I can get to know every student," she said.

Her career in the Saratoga district gave her a range of experience that will serve her well in the K-8 Woodside district, she said. The bulk of her time there was spent at the 6-8 level, and during her tenure as assistant superintendent, a key focus for her was K-5 curriculum, particularly in the areas of math and literacy, she said.

A total of 26 applications were received for the post, and a consultant narrowed that field to 11, Ms. Pike said. The board interviewed five of those candidates, and narrowed the field to three finalists before making its choice, she said.


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