Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors title=
Denise Alvarado (left) and Daisy Ochoa (right) [courtesy photos]
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Source: Santa Barbara Unified School District

The Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Board of Trustees has unanimously approved the appointment of two new district administrators.

The district is promoting long-time SBUSD employee Daisy Ochoa to Director of Early Childhood and After School Programs, while also welcoming Denise Alvarado as Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

Ms. Ochoa has already shifted into her new role, while Ms. Alvarado will begin work on July 18, 2022.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Ms. Ochoa and Ms. Alvarado as leaders in our district. Their heart, knowledge and experience will be key for our children — from TK through 12th grade,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, the district’s superintendent.

“Ms. Ochoa has earned this promotion, her loyalty to not only the district, but to her lifelong commitment to our community is inspiriational and aspirational at the same time. And Ms. Alvarado’s desire to work at Santa Barbara Unified was tangible, and her experience, particularly with English Learners, will help us continue to strive to serve all students equitably.”

Here’s a deeper look at each of their careers to date:

Daisy Ochoa, Director of Early Childhood and After School Programs

Ms. Ochoa has been a staple of Santa Barbara Unified’s growing early childhood and after-school programs for the past seven years, spending time as an After School/Expanded Learning Program Coordinator and, most recently, the Early Childhood Education Administrator.

As the Early Childhood Education Administrator, Ms. Ochoa has led, organized and coordinated the programs funded by the Early Education and Support and the Expanded Learning Divisions of the California Department of Education; establish and maintain related timelines and priorities; manage programs and activities to meet the goals and objectives of Educational Services; assure that related activities comply with established standards, requirements, laws, codes, regulations, and policies.

Prior to joining the early childhood staff, Ms. Ochoa spent five years as a 1st and 3rd grade teacher at McKinley Elementary, preceded by being a Dual Language Immersion teacher at Cesar Chavez Charter School in Santa Barbara.

Ms. Ochoa is a Santa Barbara native, graduating from Monroe Elementary, La Cumbre Junior High and San Marcos High School.

She is also a graduate of UCSB, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Masters in Education, along with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

Through her own experiences, as a native and an educator, Ms. Ochoa is well aware of the impact that early education has on children of all backgrounds.

"Education does not begin at the age five and a child’s day doesn’t end at 3 p.m. It’s been proven that children that are given early childhood education, are better equipped to be more successful when they enter kindergarten, and once they enter the school system it’s important that they have a safe and enriching environment where they can continue to be supported and cared for after school,” Ms. Ochoa said. 

“I’ve had a passion for giving back to my community and ensuring networks of support for our families. It’s an honor to now lead as the Director of Early Childhood and After School Programs and provide high quality preschool and after school programs for the children of Santa Barbara."

Denise Alvarado, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Ms. Alvarado joins SBUSD as an academic and systems leader with 19 years of experience as a math teacher, dean of academics, assistant principal and principal across TK-12, a rare attribute for most administrators.

For the past three years, she has been the principal at Oxford Preparatory Academy (a TK-8 school) in Mission Viejo. Prior to that, she was an assistant principal at Magnolia High School and Brookhurst Junior High, both of which are in Anaheim.

She’s also been the dean of academics at La Habra High School in La Habra and Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton.

Throughout her career, Ms. Alvarado has been an advocate for English Learners, leading teams of administrators, teachers, counselors and instructional aides in properly placing and establishing systems to support English Learners through school master schedules for current and subsequent years.

A primary focus in finding success in this work has been a commitment to parent engagement, including a program she started at Brookhurst called “Disciplina Positiva” that included parent workshops, monthly parent nights and parent learning walks.

She sees similar opportunities with Santa Barbara Unified.

“As a servant leader, it is an honor to serve the Santa Barbara Unified School District. My core values of integrity, teamwork, service, growth and leadership are aligned with the district’s mission and vision. I am impressed and inspired by SBUSD efforts towards diversity, equity, inclusion, and access,” said Ms. Alvarado.

“I will actively work with teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and community partners on closing the achievement and opportunity gaps to meet the needs of all students. I will lead with compassion and courage to provide a high quality education in an equitable, nurturing, and student centered environment where students reach their full potential.”

Ms. Alvarado has a Master of Science degree in Education Administration from Cal State Fullerton, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from UC Davis.

She was twice recognized by the Orange County Department of Education for Leadership and Outstanding Service for English Learners, while also named Teacher of the Year at La Sierra High School in 2008. 

In 2003, Ms. Alvarado was named UC Davis’ 14th Annual Undergraduate Research Scholar.

She is also a board member of the Extraordinary Lives Foundation, which supports and improves children's mental health and wellness.

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Channelfog Jul 13, 2022 08:59 AM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

United Way has always been top heavy, chewing through most of the donations. Get involved in a local (small) charity or at least donate directly to those in need. Every month, we buy food to feed 80 people for a week and take it to a community center. No highly paid executives living off that which is meant for the poor, just the peace of mind that 100% of our donations are feeding hungry people. Efficiency!

sacjon Jul 14, 2022 12:51 PM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

BASIC - well, it IS optional, despite whatever it is you're saying about being a "critical thinker and a skeptic..."

It's not as "political" or "agenda-driven" as you appear to think it is. It's just giving those who want the opportunity for their children to grow up learning and becoming proficient in the 4th most spoken language in the world, a chance to do so. No need to worry about it if you don't want to partake. I thought you conservatives were all "let others do what they want?"

Hashtag - what test scores? Which scores are you looking at that show this program isn't working? Can you point to the scores of those kids at McKinley who enrolled in this? We'd love to see those frickin test scores you're looking at!

Basicinfo805 Jul 13, 2022 07:44 PM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

Sac - I’d like to think you’re correct and that’s written in stone, but I’m an opt out player all day long on this one. I’m a critical thinker and a skeptic, especially of the school district over the last 10 years. Maybe it’s all good for those who want to drink their cool aid, but I do not. Hashtag - take a frickin look at test scores.

sacjon Jul 13, 2022 02:45 PM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

BASIC - yeah, it's what I looked at yesterday to confirm it was optional before I commented on something I knew nothing about (hint hint). Now tell me how you equate "How to Enroll" with "compulsory?" You really think people need to "enroll" or worry about "Who gets priority" in a mandatory program?

How about you go re-read that website. Life's much less stressful if you actually take the time to learn whether something you're stressing about is real or not. Just a tip!

sacjon Jul 13, 2022 11:48 AM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

BASIC - show me where it's compulsory and I might agree. I agree it shouldn't be forced on ALL students, as some students might have trouble with it. Everything I've read about it though shows it's an optional program.

My "two words" of Spanish was obvious hyperbole, I'm glad your kid will learn more than I did.

Basicinfo805 Jul 13, 2022 11:36 AM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

It’s not an “option”. Haven’t you kept up on the plans? They’ll teach in both languages within the same classroom. Half or more of the words they hear will be spoken in Spanish. How is that an option? Imagine being taught history, trigonometry, whatever - in Spanish. Recipe for disaster.

Anyways, I would be fine with it if it were truly independent and optional. I’d keep my kid in classes taught by teachers speaking english, and when it comes time he’ll take a lot of Spanish, like I did (5 years) and maybe learn more than your (and others’) two words because that was the minimum passing requirement.

sacjon Jul 13, 2022 08:55 AM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

Sure do. Why are you so concerned if some families want their kids to be immersed in Spanish and attain linguistic proficiency while their young? Don't worry so much about what others choose to do. You keep on with your 2 years of high school Spanish and let others take it more seriously. I took 2 years and I can remember how to say "shoe" and "I like beer" even after getting A's both years.

Aren't' you one of those "let people make their own choices" kind of guy/gal? Oh wait, I forgot you're not "right wing," but totally a democrat lol!

Basicinfo805 Jul 12, 2022 09:07 PM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

There’s been that option for decades, it’s called language electives that everyone had to take - and it has been Spanish, French, German , Latin. I took Spanish once I learned English. I didn’t do that in 2nd grade. If you aren’t doing well learning English, not much else matters. Take a look at our schools test scores Sac.

letmego Jul 14, 2022 12:37 PM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

It's a lot more useful if you start young. Most of the Europeans that I know start learning English as a second language by age 10 at the latest.

Also, most people that I know (locally and elsewhere) who chose to have their children in dual immersion schools/ classrooms are upper middle class white folks.

sacjon Jul 13, 2022 09:02 AM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

Also, most kids (unless it's their 2nd language) don't "learn English" in school and it definitely doesn't take until high school age to master your native language to the extent that it's OK to start trying a foreign one.

ChillinGrillin Jul 13, 2022 12:51 AM
Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

Two classes in high school isn't learning a language. And education isn't a zero sum game. Students across Europe learn foreign languages young and they are often more proficient in math and their native language than US students on average.

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