Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

San Dieguito selects solo superintendent finalist

On October 10, the San Dieguito Union High School District announced that a candidate had risen to the top as a finalist for the district’s next superintendent: Dr. Cheryl James-Ward.

James-Ward, a Carmel Valley resident, is the CEO and Chief Engagement and Innovation Officer of e3 Civic High, a charter based in downtown San Diego. Prior to joining e3 Civic High, James-Ward was a full professor at San Diego State University for 14 years.

The SDUHSD board will officially vote on the position at its October 14th meeting. Subject to approval, James-Ward will begin her role as Superintendent on November 1st.

In a press release, SDUHSD President Maureen “Mo” Muir said she believed James-Ward was “great” to serve the district.

“Dr. Ward is well known in our community and has an unprecedented level of relevant experience,” said Muir. “She holds a PhD in Education from USC and has an extensive knowledge of curriculum and student assessment. I believe she is the right manager for us. “

A superintendent search began last month with Texas-based JG Consulting, who hosted a series of public input sessions September 20-28. The district received 18 full applications for the position of superintendent and over the weekend interviews were conducted with James-Ward as a finalist.


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In the press release, James-Ward said she looks forward to working with the board, parents, staff, students and the SDUHSD community on “a shared vision of delivering the best educational experiences for all students.”

“With the COVID-19 outbreak and breakthrough developments such as ubiquitous technology, artificial intelligence and the global economy, public high schools are facing the challenge of providing a new level of education,” said James-Ward. “In order for the United States and other countries to compete on a global scale, school leaders must reassess and redesign educational programs to give students the presence and experience they need to become proficient competitors around the world.”

James-Ward has lived in Carmel Valley for 16 years with husband Dr. Randy Ward, the retired San Diego County Superintendent of Schools, and their two children, Jernie and James.

James-Ward’s educational background also includes serving as Director of Academic Initiatives for Long Beach Unified School District, Principal and Assistant Principal of Long Beach Unified School District, Principal of Capri Elementary in Encinitas, and Dean of Student Discipline and Maths Teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

During her tenure at SDSU, she was the founding director of the online Master of Arts program in Educational Leadership, led the SDSU Chinese and American Educational Leadership Symposium, and taught both Masters and PhD courses. She is also a researcher in leadership and future schools. James-Ward has published numerous articles in leadership and technology magazines and is the lead author of Using Data to Focus Instructional Improvement, according to the press release.

“DR. Ward is committed to serving the needs of students from diverse backgrounds,” said SDUHSD trustee Melissa Mossy in the press release. “She will work hard to provide the best education possible for all members of our community.”

In 2018, she was a candidate for the SDUHSD seat in Area 5 and for the San Diego County Board of Education.

“We are so happy that Dr. Ward will lead our district, ”Board of Trustees Michael Allman said in the press release. “She has extensive experience in public schools, is a recognized educator and a proven and experienced manager.”

Interim Superintendent Lucile Lynch will continue to serve the district through October.

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