Santa Barbara Unified Appoints Two New Directors

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.


Written by Anonymous

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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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