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Walnut Creek associate principal takes top slot at SRVHS

'A year of reflection'

It's been a year of change in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

In June, Mary Shelton signed on as the district's new superintendent, and San Ramon Valley High has a new principal, Ruth Steele after a reshuffle that led the school's veteran principal to a different high school.

The 2012-13 school year will be Steele's first as principal. She spent the last four years as associate principal at Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek, a year as associate principal at Miramonte High in Orinda and a year as biology teacher at Miramonte.

Steele, 37, isn't looking to make sweeping changes -- at least for now. She said her first year would be about learning the school, students and staff, calling it "a year of reflection, looking at things with a fresh lens."

She said so far, her experience has been a positive one, with people not afraid to tell her what's been working and what they think could use improvement.

"The district office staff has been very supportive and the (school) site team is open to looking at changes," Steele said. She added that she's committed to bringing new technology to the school.

It doesn't hurt that the school's former principal, Joe Ionora is close by.

Ianora left San Ramon Valley after eight years to take over as principal at Del Amigo High. Del Amigo's principal, Lucy Daggett,took a counseling position at another of the district's high schools.

This year is Steele's 16th in education, starting in England, where she spent two years teaching high school science and art design.

"Having grown up in a different country has been really helpful, because it gives me a different perspective," Steele said.

Steele said she moved to the U.S. for its sunshine, and so she could spend more of the year playing ultimate Frisbee. New Zealand was the runner-up when she decided to move to a warmer climate.

In 2001, Steele moved to John Swett High School in Crockett, not far from Martinez, where she spent five years teaching high school biology.

She's also received a master's degree in educational leadership from Sonoma State and completed an administrative credential program.

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