Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter


Employee Spotlights

There is amazing work happening on every campus and in every department at PUSD.

Each month Superintendent Brian McDonald and PEF features a different PUSD department to shine the light of recognition on some of our brightest and most committed staff. These PUSD employees deserve a special "shout out" for their excellence. We are #PUSDproud!


Employee recognition is easy.  It means paying attention to the good stuff and calling it out.  These PUSD employees deserve a special "shout out" for their excellence.

1.  Certificated:  Kimberly Suarez. Teacher at John Muir High School
Ms. Kimberly Suarez has been a teacher at John Muir High School for 18 years.  Anyone that has observed Ms. Suarez with her students can see how much she loves each one of them.  She is dedicated to help each student find his/her success.  She knows that the journey to success is also part of the process and enjoys that just as much.  Many of her students are nonverbal, therefore much of what she does is trial and error.  Her dedication, persistence, and love for each of her students is why she is one of our Spotlight employees.
Ms. Suarez is an advocate and voice for the special education population.  She is passionate about presenting to people what individuals with special needs are capable of.  She is constantly working on finding opportunities for each student to learn and work both inside AND outside the classroom.  This not only helps the students gain experience but it also allows others see how wonderful and capable these individuals are. 

2.  Classified:  Lezlie Porter, Blair School  Mrs. Lezlie Porter is completing her 15th year as a proud  Blair Viking.  She loves to build relationships with the students while supporting their academic instruction. She also loves her fellow viking staff members.  Mrs. Porter enjoys being a member  of a team of educators who are called upon to serve and support the children in need of special education.  That is why she is nominated as this month's Spotlight for Special Education.  
You will find Mrs. Porter always supporting the Special Education population.  Sje strongly believes that her students need to know they are valuable. Whether it be by supporting the implementation of an IEP, providing behavioral support, or giving gentle care to  our most physically fragile students, Mrs. Porter is an advocate for all students. Her work as paraeducator is essential to the quality of instruction and services provided to PUSD students.

3.  Administration:‚Äč    Linda Chang, principal at Don Benito Elementary.  Dr. LInda Chang was a teacher for 7 years in the classroom, a  CRT for 2 years, and is in her 3rd year as principal at Don Benito.  Everyone that has the pleasure of meeting Dr. Chang, knows you will find her working hard to ensure that every child receives the very best every day. She loves to buils love for learning and life radiating from her kids everyday.  
Dr. Chang believes, as educators, we give our very best to ALL students regardless of our differences because EVERY human being deserves respect and the opportunity to reach his/her fullest potential.
This is why she is spotlighted: for her dedication to Special Education.  
Dr. Chang and her team make sure they know their students by building healthy relationships and cultivating trust.   They do this by:
1) Meeting their students' basic needs: Ex: making sure they have food, safety, love and attention;
2) Study up on individual needs by getting to know the families and IEPs;
3) Maintaining high expectations for learning;
4) Providing appropriate professional development so teachers can keep learning and adding to their repertoire of tools and strategies
5) above all, treating  their students with dignity, respect and compassion as if they were our very own.

January 2016  - EQUITY AND ACCESS Department

Dawna Tully, teacher at Cleveland Elementary. 

Ms. Dawna Tully has been a dedicated teacher at PUSD for 25 years.  She is in her 5th year teaching at Cleveland Elementary.  This year she is teaching 1st grade.  Ms. Tully enthusiastically encourages a love of learning which is immediately evident when you step into her classroom.  Ms. Tully is recognized for equity and access because she believes that it is critical that our underserved students are provided an enriched and challenging curriculum.  Each child deserves individual attention so that their potential is nurtured and self-efficacy increased.  She strongly believes this will lead to improved academic, college, and career choices. "As a former underserved student who was challenged academically, I have direct experience of the power of education to affect positive change within one generation. I want that and more for all our students."

Victoria Humdy, Marshall Fundamental

Victoria Humdy has been working at Marshall Fundamental for nine years.  Her title may be Security, but Ms. Humdy wears many hats.  She is also a mentor, a counselor, a parent, a teacher, a friend, and above all, a listener.  She is a shoulder to lean on.  This is why she is recognized for her equity and access.  You will always find her interacting, supporting, and encouraging students to thrive.  She wants all students to reach their maximum potential.  "Sometimes I feel like a magnet.  I'm drawn to them and they're drawn to me.  That's the opportunity for me to give them a positive outlook on their future and their potential.  They are already going through so much in their personal situations.  I feel like I need to listen to them more, be more understanding, and provide support I know they don't have."

Dr. Jennifer Smith-Jackson, principal at Norma Coombs Elementary.  

Dr. Jennifer Smith was a teacher for 10 years, an assistant principal for over four years, and a principal for five years.  In addition, Dr. Smith serves as Equity Chairperson of the APSA (Association of Pasadena School Administrators) Board. Anyone that has had the pleasure of being around Dr. Smith can understand that educating ALL students is her lifelong passion.  She always does her homework too!  She continually accesses information and resources that generate opportunities to support all of her students' needs.  Her drive comes from seeing the growth and change in children as they develop and mature.  Dr. Smith is recognized for her equity and access because " I just know, at my core, with access and opportunities, so many more students can thrive and demonstrate what they truly know."  She wants equity for all students..."to level the playing field."

December 2016 – ATHLETICS Department

Janel Coburn, Volleyball Coach at Blair School.  Ms. Coburn has been the head coach with Blair High School's volleyball program for one year. She is currently a substitute in PUSD.  She loves the energy it takes to be a teacher.  Ms. Coburn is best known for bringing information to life!  She loves the opportunities to be silly and help her students have fun while learning.  Janel definitely brings that energy to the volleyball courts for her players!  She strives to be someone that pushes each student to be better in all aspects of life: sports, academics, and personally.  A bonus is to instil the love of the game.  Overall, she loves  providing a positive female influence for her players. 


Athletic Coaching, Asst.  Varsity Head Coach Cherif Zein, Pasadena High School Boys Soccer CIFF SS Runner UP Championship.  AKA, Sir Lord Don El Rey Arabe Cherif.  This is his 24th year as head soccer coach.   Sir Cherif is a true bulldogs - he loves the PHS traditions and all of his amazing colleagues.  Of course, he is dedicated to his students both on and off of the field.  He enjoys developing the students into athletes while open their minds to their future.

Brian James, John Muir High School.  Mr. James has been a teacher for 24 years and an administrator at John Muir High School for 3 years.  He enjoys pushing student athletes toward perfection and loves the fulfillment on their faces when they actually achieve it.  He also, admits that winning is not a bad thing either.  Mr. James is also a passionate educator off the field.  "Although it may take days, weeks or even years to be realized, I enjoy the opportunity/challenge of making a genuine difference in the life of a young person"  says Brian James