Amy Alzina Awarded Superintendent of the Year

By Joanne A Calitri   |   July 9, 2024
Dr. Amy Alzina with her latest project for Cold Spring School, the new arts and STEAM center of learning, due to open in a month (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The energy and face of Amy Alzina EdD, Cold Spring Elementary School District (CSESD) Superintendent/Principal, is well noted in our town. For the past seven years, she has led the school and increased growth levels in education, STEAM, and community interface. She and her team have maintained this through multiple environmental disasters and lockdowns, without pause. Since Alzina’s arrival at CSESD, the students outperform all other school districts in the State of California as measured by the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) summative assessments in both Mathematics and Language Arts. 

Her enthusiasm for education and exemplary leadership is now awarded and recognized by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) with the Superintendent/Principal of the Year Award, announced this June. 

Alzina serves on both the Small School District’s Association (SSDA) and the ASCA. As a liaison between SSDA and ACSA, she served as the Chair of the ACSA Small School District Committee. Her work in education includes Principal of Santa Barbara Community Academy for three years, and Principal of Adams Elementary School for eight years, where she focused on educating the whole child. Prior to those experiences, she was Interim Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education for the Santa Barbara Unified School District, where she developed a comprehensive learning plan for teachers and assisted in writing the District’s LCAP. She received her EdD in education from the University of Concordia, Chicago, her MA from Azusa Pacific University, and her undergrad BA from Westmont College.

Alzina and I sat in her office to talk about her award and where she is heading next!

Q. Tell us about your path as an educator?

A. I believe that all educators get into the field because of their kindergarten teacher! Mine made education come to life, and growing up my parents were big on education. 

I attended and finished early from Westmont College. I thought about teaching and was going to get a degree in kinesiology from another school. Westmont Coach Russell Smelley reached out and asked me to come back to Westmont – as I was still eligible to compete in track for Westmont. I did that, became an All American as 4th in the U.S., and graduated with a BA, and kinesiology minor. After graduation, I was a kindergarten aid and worked in the afterschool program at SB Christian School, loved the children, and from there my career took off. I started working at SB Community Academy, next at Adams Elementary. I decided to apply for the position at CSESD to take an already high achieving school and bring it as high as it can go. I firmly believe every student can meet or beat the standards with a great relationship-driven teacher. My goal at CSESD is 100% proficiency, as when I arrived we were at 80%. This year we reached state ranking at 99% in ELA [English Language Arts], 98% in math, and 97% in science. 

And can you talk about your role as a superintendent?

I view my role as Superintendent as similar to that of a sports coach. I’m a John Wooden fan. He said, “True success is attained only through the satisfaction of knowing you did everything within the limits of your ability to become the very best that you are capable of being.” I focus on that and bring it to CSESD. How can my teachers be the best they can be? By me being there to support them and us working as a team.

What’s next for you in your career and your personal best goals?

I’m excited I was asked to serve on the State Board for ACSA this year. My ultimate goal is I want to make a larger impact as a superintendent of a larger district. I have a high bar, starting with an amazing school board like the one I have here, which I don’t take for granted. They support my work and goals at CSESD. I am making presentations in Sacramento, for example, about how educators can use AI, and will be speaking at the Women in Leadership forums.


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