A Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) leader who has dedicated the majority of her education career caring for the emotional well-being of students to help them thrive in school, will become the new principal of Ohlone Elementary School. Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Superintendent Dr. Glenn “Max” McGee has appointed Ms. Dawn Yoshinaga, currently Greendell School’s Principal, as the new leader at Ohlone Elementary. Dr. McGee tapped Ms. Yoshinaga for the principalship role at Ohlone after current Principal Dr. Nicki Smith announced her retirement.
“I am delighted that Dawn will be Ohlone’s next school principal,” said Dr. Nicki Smith, Ohlone’s current school principal. “I have worked together with Dawn for two years as elementary school principals in PAUSD and I admire her kind demeanor and strong leadership skills. She is a great instructional leader who cares deeply about her Greendell students, parents, and community and I know that she will bring that care and attention to Ohlone. Ohlone is a very special place and Dawn’s educational philosophy and values are a great fit for our school community.”
In announcing the appointment of Ms. Yoshinaga, Dr. McGee said, “I am truly excited that Dawn has accepted the move to Ohlone. She has some big shoes to fill as we all will miss Nicki and her wonderful service to PAUSD and public education and I know that Dawn will do an excellent job. Coupled with her social-emotional specialty and her compassionate and collaborative leadership, Dawn is the perfect fit for Ohlone. We are fortunate to have her in our school district and I look forward to seeing her work together with Ohlone parents and community partners for the benefit of our students.”
Ms. Yoshinaga comes to Ohlone after serving the Greendell School community for two years as its principal. In making the announcement to her community, she said, “While I am excited for the new Ohlone adventure, it is hard to leave the magical world of Greendell, where we have worked together to grow developing young minds and hearts. Our work together has been a joyous and fulfilling part of my life these past two years, and I have grown so very fond of every student, family, and staff member here. I look forward to becoming part of the Ohlone Elementary family.”
Dawn Yoshinaga earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and holds two master’s degrees; one in Educational Leadership from Santa Clara University and the other in Clinical Child-School Psychology from California State University, East Bay. She began her career serving elementary and middle school students as a school psychologist with the Saratoga Union School District where she was employed until 2015 when she joined PAUSD. Before she was named principal at Greendell School, Ms. Yoshinaga had served in Saratoga in a leadership role as an interim principal for one of that school district’s elementary schools. She led her teachers with the implementation and professional learning of the Common Core State Standards as well as her school’s implementation of the state’s new assessment system.
Dawn Yoshinaga’s appointment is effective July 1. She fills the vacancy created at Ohlone Elementary due to the retirement of Principal Dr. Nicki Smith. Dr. Smith was named Ohlone Elementary’s principal in 2014 and is ending her career in education after more than 30 years of service. As an educator, Dr. Smith has served in some of the nation’s largest and high profile school districts such as Montgomery County Public Schools and Arlington County Public Schools, she helped prepare future educators as an instructor at the University of Wisconsin and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she served as an elected Board of Education member in Wisconsin, and taught and held leadership roles at several schools throughout the Bay Area. Dr. Smith earned her Doctoral Degree in Reading and Human Development from Harvard University. She also holds two master’s degrees, from Harvard and Stanford universities.