Head of the Class: Bull takes reins at Donlon

New principal has deep roots in Pleasanton schools

When Sebastian Bull steps onto Donlon Elementary's campus, he isn't thinking about grants that need to be written or schedules that need to be planned.

He's thinking about the hundreds of kids under his care. He said he wants to make sure every day students know "we're going to work hard, but we're going to laugh."

Bull, 43, is Donlon's new principal, but the city resident is no stranger to Pleasanton Unified. He worked for the past 16 years at Amador Valley High teaching kids about history and its place in their lives.

He spent the last five years as a vice principal at Amador Valley before beginning his position as Donlon principal just before the start of this school year.

As Bull steps into the position, he said he realizes parents may be wondering about his long-term plans. Bull is Donlon's sixth principal since 2009, with some principals lasting a year.

Bull's roots are deeply embedded in Pleasanton, he said. His wife, a Pleasanton native with family in town, teaches science at Amador Valley.

"I have no plans on going anywhere," he said. "My focus is on Donlon and learning what the school has and what the school needs."

His passion for teaching comes from a desire to help people, he said. To that end, he said he's been supported by his wife who inspires him by "how hard she works and her passion for teaching" and his father "mostly because I never want to let him down," he said with a smile.

Bull may look serious when walking across campus -- he said his thinking face can make him look grumpy -- but he likes to joke with kids and help students realize learning can be fun. His focus as an administrator will be on maintaining the school as a place where students, teachers and staff feel supported, enriched and safe.

"I've always felt I need to find different ways to engage the students and find different ways to draw them in," he said. "People describe me as pretty caring and helpful. I worry about people a lot and try and find ways to solve their problems."

When off-campus, Bull said he spends most of his free time with his wife and sons. They travel when possible, play soccer, swim, learn about dinosaurs and spend time creating with every young child's go-to toy: "Legos, of course," he said.

Students are often surprised when they learn Bull has a hidden English accent. Born in England, Bull moved to Los Angeles when he was 6 for his dad's job. He said he quickly learned to speak with an American accent to avoid getting picked on at school but can switch back when needed.

He said that bit of trivia made lessons on the American Revolution a bit more fun when he was a classroom social studies teacher.

"I still do have my English accent when I'm around my family," he added.

Bull received his bachelor's degree in geography from UC Santa Barbara, his master's degree in education and teaching credential from Mills College in Oakland and his administrative credential from Cal State East Bay.

He receives an annual salary of $127,980.53 as principal of Donlon Elementary, which is located at 4150 Dorman Road.

Editor's note: The Pleasanton Weekly's "Head of the Class" series will profile new Pleasanton Unified School District principals throughout the coming weeks.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


8 people like this
Posted by Longtime Donlon Parent
a resident of Valley Trails
on Sep 23, 2015 at 6:54 am

We are very pleased to have Mr. Bull on board at our wonderful school! The year is off to a smooth start, and he and our VP Mr. Ramirez have a real presence on campus. The entire Donlon staff make an amazing team. Looking forward to another great year!

4 people like this
Posted by Shauna Johnson
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Such a loss for the Amador Valley community and such a gain for the Donlon community! We miss you Mr. Bull!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Talking sports and life with Tommy Dyer
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 1,342 views

Couples: Mirror, Mirror on the . . . Fight?!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,310 views