English teacher to become assistant principal at Los Gatos

May 21, 2010 — by Emily Williams
Arbizu, Valerie

Valerie Arbizu will start at Los Gatos in the fall.

After one year at Saratoga High, English teacher Valerie Arbizu will be leaving the classroom next year to take on a job as an assistant principal at Los Gatos High. In this job, Arbizu will help manage discipline and curriculum instruction at LGHS.

Arbizu was picked above more than 100 other applicants for the job. She applied for the position because her job at Saratoga was put in jeopardy by district-wide budget cuts and by the fact that she was a new teacher at SHS.

“The position was posted online and information went out to district employees first,” said Arbizu. “We were told if we were interested to throw in our hat. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to have a job next year so maybe this is something that I should give a shot,’ and I did, and it worked out.”

Although Arbizu wasn’t seeking out this job at first, she has been pursuing her interest in administration for some time now. This past July she received her master’s degree in educational administration. Nonetheless, Arbizu wanted to make sure the job was the right fit, so she talked to Los Gatos principal Markus Autry before she even applied.

“The staff over there are really excited to work with [Autry], and he has some really specific goals and they lined up with what I want in a school, too,” Arbizu said. “His leadership philosophy matched with mine.”

In addition to attaining her master’s degree, Arbizu’s leadership experience includes her four-year run as English department chair and professional development coordinator at Evergreen Valley, where she taught for seven years. Arbizu attributes her luck at landing such a good position to her leadership experience, her background in professional development and educational technology, and pure luck.

“Those are the gaps that they want to fill over there and those are the skills that I bring to the table,” she said. “I think is was also just the luck of the draw where I just happened to be at the right place at the right time with the right credentials and the right attitude.”

Although she loves working with students, Arbizu has a true passion for helping teachers develop interesting and updated curricula to keep students engaged.

“Helping support teachers in learning how to keep their teaching strategies fresh and engaging to students and to themselves is very important,” Arbizu said. “Education just keeps changing so much and our students change year after year.”

Arbizu knows she will face many challenges in her new job; however, she does not shrink from the test.

“I’m looking for a challenge, and I think that will be a little bit more of a challenging situation to be outside of the classroom,” she said.

Arbizu can hardly contain her excitement about her new job, but she did note her disappointment at not being around to seeing her three classes of freshman grow throughout high school, not to mention the smaller student population at SHS. Despite the adjustments, she plans to embrace this job wholeheartedly.

“I’m looking forward to being much more hands on with the school. Being a new teacher (at SHS), it was difficult to throw your hat in to the ring and be who you had been at a previous campus. I didn’t really get a chance to get as involved as I wanted to [at Saratoga], so I’m really looking forward to doing that over there.”