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June 11, 2008 > New principal for Logan High

New principal for Logan High

Submitted By Rick LaPlante

Judy Billingsley, who engineered a dramatic improvement in student achievement during the past three years as a high school principal in Sacramento, was appointed by the Board of Education to serve as the new principal of James Logan High School, effective July 1.

"When the folks on our hiring team were reviewing candidates, I kept hearing that we had several good ones but that one in particular was fantastic," New Haven Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi said. "When I met Judy, I understood why everyone was so excited. She's the right person, at the right time, committed to doing the right work."

In Sacramento, Ms. Billingsley is principal of GENESIS Charter High School, which in 2007 improved by a remarkable 99 points on the Academic Performance Index, the state's yardstick of student achievement as measured by standardized tests. In her three years as principal of GENESIS which serves mostly disadvantaged students, scores improved by a total of 166 points, including a 48-point gain in 2005 and a 19-point gain in 2006.

"Her efforts also have been instrumental in closing the achievement gap there, and that's another priority for us" New Haven incoming Chief Academic Officer Glynn Thompson said, referring to the nation-wide difference in academic achievement between white and Asian students on one hand and African-Americans and Hispanics on the other.

"Judy understands student achievement, obviously, and she also understands that the high school experience extends beyond the classroom, which is such an important part of Logan's tradition," Dr. Jaurequi said.

"I love the arts and I've always been an athlete, so I'm especially excited to be coming to a school that has achieved such excellence in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities," Ms. Billingsley said.

Ms. Billingsley said she also is excited about Logan's diversity. Nearly one-third of Logan's 4,000 students are Hispanic and about one-quarter are Asian. Nearly 20 percent are Filipino, about 14 percent are white and about 11 percent are African-American.

"Just driving through town, I was struck by what a wonderful place this would be to work," she said.

Ms. Billingsley's experience also includes two years as principal at Sacramento High School, where she previously served as vice principal. Before that, she was Dean of Students at South High in Bakersfield, after serving as a teacher in the Kern High School District for 20 years.

"There's a poise and a presence about her that's unmistakable," said New Haven Associate Superintendent for Personnel Derek McNamara, who headed the District's search team. "She is an educational leader, students relate to her and staff members respect her."

A graduate of Cal State, Bakersfield, Ms. Billingsley earned her masters degree at the University of LaVerne in Southern California and her administrative credential from National University.

"When I was 12 years old, I decided I wanted to be a teacher," she said. "I had some great teachers throughout my education, and I wanted to give that same gift to others."

Ms. Billingsley has two grown sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandsons, ages 12 and 5. A recreational soccer player, she also enjoys travel, reading and music.

At Logan, Ms. Billingsley will replace veteran principal Don Montoya, who is moving to the Cabello Student Support Center to coordinate district-wide prevention and intervention services and serve as principal of the Community Day School.

The Board of Education also approved the appointment of veteran educator Joe Feldman as Director of Secondary Education. Working with Mr. Thompson in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Mr. Feldman will oversee both Logan and Conley-Caraballo, the District's continuation high school.

Founding principal of Thurgood Marshall Academy High School in Washington D.C, Mr. Feldman also has worked at Washington Irvington High School in New York City and for the U.S. Department of Education. A graduate of Stanford University, he earned his masters degree at Harvard and both an administrative credential and a law degree from New York University.

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