South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) has hired Jessica Zavala to serve as the new principal of Monterey Hills Elementary School.
Zavala is no stranger to the South Pasadena community and comes back to Monterey Hills after serving for the past four years as principal of John Muir Elementary – International Spanish Academy School in Glendale. Prior to this role, she was the assistant principal at Monterey Hills for four years with current principal, Dr. Laurie Narro.
Throughout Zavala’s more than 26 years in education, she served in various roles including as an educational assistant and fourth grade teacher at Cerritos Elementary School, a sixth grade teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, and a teacher specialist at Benjamin Franklin Magnet School, all within Glendale Unified School District.
Zavala brings experience with diverse groups of students including English language learners, gifted and talented students, and students with special needs. In her current position, Zavala has created a culture of acceptance and inclusivity for teachers, staff, and students through her calm demeanor, organizational skills, and commitment to continuous learning. She is adept at leading teachers and building excellent programs through sophisticated instructional planning and by implementing research-based strategies.
Zavala has a strong passion for dual immersion programs and worked extensively to help launch and implement the Spanish dual language immersion program at Monterey Hills in 2015. She also cares deeply for students, continuously finding ways to enhance positive reinforcements and create a welcoming school environment for both students and parents. She works closely with parents and community leaders to offer enrichment programs and school events for all ages. Throughout her career, her exemplary performance as an educator has been recognized at two separate schools as Teacher of the Year.
Zavala earned a Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles. She also holds a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from California State University, Northridge. She looks forward to starting her new role at Monterey Hills Elementary School on July 1, 2023. Zavala will fill the principal position held by Dr. Laurie Narro, who will retire June 30, 2023.