Montair Elementary gets 4th principal in 4 years

Ondi Tricaso hired by school board to head Danville campus

The San Ramon Valley school board named local assistant principal Ondi Tricaso as the new principal at Montair Elementary School on Tuesday, making her the fourth person to lead the Danville campus since 2012.

Tricaso, a 26-year San Ramon Valley educator who worked most recently as assistant principal at San Ramon's Quail Run Elementary, succeeds Adam Welcome -- who recently left Montair after one year for a director-level position with the nearby Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

Turnover at the top has been a theme for Montair since Matt Hermann's 10-year run as principal ended after the 2009-10 school year. The three subsequent principals each had tenures of three years or less.

District administration hopes Tricaso will provide new stability for the elementary campus just outside downtown Danville on Quinterra Lane, according to district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich.

"Montair Elementary was fortunate to have years of stability under the leadership of Matt Hermann," she said in a follow-up Wednesday. "We are confident that in Ondi Tricaso we have found a principal who is committed to the school and this community. Mrs. Tricaso will do a great job in the years to come as principal of Montair Elementary."

Tricaso began her education career in 1982 as a teacher at the Palmer School in Walnut Creek. She joined the San Ramon Valley Unified School District eight years later and has worked for the district ever since.

She taught for 14 years at district elementary schools -- Montair, Vista Grande and John Baldwin -- before becoming a teacher on special assignment and a member of the leadership team for the district's Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) mentorship program. Tricaso stayed in those positions until 2014, when she was promoted to assistant principal at Quail Run.

After two years at Quail Run, she was named a principal for the first time Tuesday night when the school board voted unanimously in closed session to appoint her to lead Montair.

For Montair's fourth- and fifth-grade classes, Tricaso will be their fourth principal during their time at the school.

Welcome worked at Montair for the 2015-16 school year, but the Mt. Diablo school board selected him last month to become the Concord-based district's new director of innovation and technology.

While at Montair, Welcome was singled out on a national level in March, being honored as one of "20 to Watch" U.S. education technology leaders by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Technology Leadership Network.

The Montair appointment last summer was a career homecoming of sorts for Welcome, who taught at Greenbrook Elementary and worked as assistant principal at Live Oak Elementary before becoming principal at John Swett Elementary in Martinez.

Prior to Welcome's single-year tenure, Anthony LaRue served as Montair's principal for two school years. Kathleen Crosthwait held the position before that, from 2010-11 to 2012-13.

In addition to Tricaso's hiring Tuesday, the school board also appointed Laura Kimpton and Jennifer Malakoff as special education program supervisors.

Kimpton, a Danville resident, joins the San Ramon Valley's district leadership team after serving two years as a program specialist for the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Her main duties in Pleasanton included case-manager coaching and facilitation, training and support for classes co-taught by special- and general-educators, individualized education program (IEP) meeting attendance and facilitation, and oversight and support for high school and transition programs.

Kimpton's other career experience included teaching special education at San Ramon's Bollinger Canyon Elementary and leading special day classes for moderate to severe students at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo and Foothill High School in Pleasanton.

Malakoff comes to the district after working seven years with the Walnut Creek-based Speech Pathology Group, an organization that contracts with public schools and other agencies for speech-language pathology services.

For the past four school years, Malakoff served exclusively at the Walnut Creek School District, interacting closely with the district's special education director.

Before moving to California in 2009, she worked for 13 years in speech-language pathology and special education at Florida schools.

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2 people like this
Posted by Tracy
a resident of Danville
on Jul 1, 2016 at 6:48 pm

It is a shame that we lost Adam. He was a great principal, but his knowledge of technology and its potential in education far exceeded the interest of district leaders. This is sad as a few years ago we were on a path to thoughtful use of technology in our schools, but over the last few years the passion totally died away.

Like this comment
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Alamo
on Jul 2, 2016 at 7:07 am

Montair is lucky to get Ondi Tricaso! She is hard-working, intelligent, and most importantly-passionate about kids and their learning. You are in good hands.

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