News

Head of the Class: Solorzano making the rounds at Amador

New principal back at high school level after Tri-Valley trek

Alberto Solorzano is in the middle of his first semester as principal of Amador Valley High School. (Photo by Erika Alvero)

Alberto Solorzano's path to Amador Valley principal is full of "accidents," he said. Starting with his foray into teaching.

Solorzano was working at a soccer camp one summer during his college years, when one day his coach asked him what he was studying. He replied that he was on a track to become a physical therapist.

"He was like, 'Why?' You're great with kids, kids respond to you, you enjoy being around them," Solorzano recalled. "You ever thought about going into teaching? " That conversation changed the trajectory of his life.

Solorzano has now taken the reins at the 2,700-student high school on Santa Rita Road, in the wake of former principal Michael Williams' departure after Williams assumed a position at the district office. He said he feels fortunate to come to Amador at a time when "the foundation's been set," and students with varying needs and performance levels can benefit from many opportunities.

"Amador has been a nationally award-winning school, clearly one of the top schools in the state of California," he said. "It has already programs and services that are addressing those needs. It's now my opportunity to see how can we enhance."

Solorzano grew up just south of Pleasanton in Union City, and attended James Logan High School in the New Haven Unified School District, before moving on to San Francisco State University where he graduated with his bachelor of arts in kinesiology. He later earned a master of science degree from California State University, East Bay in educational leadership.

He taught physical education and health back at James Logan High, along with coaching boys' soccer, before getting into administration -- also by accident, he said.

"My principal at my final, end-of-year evaluation, asked me, 'You ever thought of going into the administration?'" he said.

He became a vice principal and then house principal of his alma mater, James Logan, and then was named principal at the district's Cesar Chavez Middle School. After 18 years in New Haven Unified, he left to assume the post of Livermore High School principal in 2012 -- at the behest of his former teaching colleague Kelly Bowers, who is currently the superintendent of Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District. He would stay there through 2015.

A focus of his tenure at Livermore was changing the students' own perception of themselves and their school -- they often saw themselves as being less academic than students at their rival Granada High School.

"We're the mighty Livermore Cowboys, right?" he said. "Kind of re-energizing the school culture, with positivity, positive school messages. Always being there, visible and supporting kids, especially our students that are struggling."

A few years later, Solorzano's path took a somewhat unexpected turn when Bowers asked him for a favor. One of the district's elementary schools was struggling, in need of strong leadership. It was a Title 1 school, meaning that a large portion of the student population came from low socio-economic backgrounds, and hadgone through several principals without gaining much "traction," he said.

So Solorzano acceded to the superintendent's request and stepped into the principalship at Marilyn Elementary.

"We did some things with interventions, we did some things with pulling the community together," he said. "Building our first ever PTA at the school site."

"And then after two years, we won a gold ribbon school award for our intervention program," he added.

After a few years at Marilyn Elementary, he felt he had seen the full scope of the K-12 experience and was ready to move to a district office. "Not by accident, but by choice," he joked, in 2017 he took a job in the Dublin Unified School District as director of secondary education, where he served last year.

He enjoyed his time in Dublin, he said, but he missed being on a campus.

"It's a town that's booming in housing," he said. "It's booming with more and more families, and more and more students that are entering the school district, and so they're working fast to build schools and also get the second high school.

"But I did a lot of reflection, and I felt it wasn't time. It wasn't time to be away from the school sites, away from the action. And so when Amador Valley became open, I saw it as an opportunity for me to get back where I truly, truly enjoy working, and that's at the high school level."

So far, in his first few months at Amador, he's been working to acquaint himself with the school, students, families and staff, through physically walking the campus along with appearing on weekly TV announcements broadcast through the school.

"If I can always walk into a room, and everybody acknowledges me, then I'm doing my part by being visible and being present," he said.

His daughter is a junior at Amador -- they'd had some long conversations about his prospective post before he had even applied for the job. But she decided that she had well-enough established herself after two years.

Solorzano said he is especially looking forward to working with teachers, and serving as an instructional coach and mentor.

While Pleasanton Unified administration has seen some turnover recently, Solorzano says that his many years doing the "Tri-Valley walk" shows his investment in the region's students. His own recent moves within Livermore and Dublin, he said, were done in the name of students, and, in the case of the elementary school principal post, to help out his superintendent.

"Those are the kinds of things that keeps people motivated," he said. "They stick around. If you're part of an organization that believes in you and they want to invest in you, then you would decrease the amount of turnover."

Amador Valley High School is located at 1155 Santa Rita Road, just outside downtown Pleasanton. Solorzano earns an annual salary of $153,353.

Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Sandy Piderit is a registered user.

We are grateful to have an engaged principal at Amador, and hope he will stick around for several years!


4 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 14, 2018 at 6:16 pm

Why can't high schools in Pleasanton get Advanced Placement teachers that actually know the course material, can teach, and don't keep getting removed from the classroom?

So why was the AP Psychology teacher [name removed pending verification] just put on leave at Amador?

And why was the AP Psychology teacher Lauren Andrade put on leave at Foothill several years ago?

Let me guess. No comment from the district.


4 people like this
Posted by Lauren Andrade revoked credential
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:02 am

Regarding Lauren Andrade, we will never hear from the district why she was given a settlement of $40,000. Her teaching credential is self-revoked pending a misconduct investigation. Just lovely. She was also the varsity swim coach at FHS. And yet another AP psych teacher on leave? Good luck to the new Amador principal.


10 people like this
Posted by Student at AV
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 15, 2018 at 5:33 pm

@parent

Regarding the AP Psychology teacher at AVHS, he was placed on leave for throwing a kid's airpods. The kid wasn't listening to him and kept playing music in his ears even while the teacher continued to talk face to face with him.

The kid talked to the office and eventually left the school, leaving us AP Psychology kids and several classes of Modern World History kids without a teacher for 2 and a half weeks.

Oh, and we (AP Psychology kids) have a test tomorrow - a test we that we have had no actual teacher to teach us the material.

All because of some kid with some Airpods.


1 person likes this
Posted by amadons20
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 19, 2018 at 10:27 pm

amadons20 is a registered user.

I am in Mr K’s world history class. It has been really tough without him as he. Is really good. My friends at Foothill say the student in questiion got in a fight like his second day at school. This sucks and we are not really told anything. I hate that Mr. K is being treated like this. He is dope and makes it something to look forward to. So much disrespectful kids teachers have to deal with.


2 people like this
Posted by Bandpunk21
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 20, 2018 at 10:03 am

Bandpunk21 is a registered user.

We have been out of a teacher for 3 weeks with no end in sight. I am in Mr K’ AP Psych class and it is one of the best courses I have taken in my entire Pleasanton academic career. My cousin is in the the class where the “incident” occurred. She said mr k did not touch the kid he only got the air pod and tossed it. She also said this kid is a punk and got suspended earlier in the year for fighting. This is such an overreaction by the parents and school district. Five classes have lost their teacher and the subs don’t do anything. We have had one test and we have only gotten by because mr k has done video lectures for everyone. This seems so selfish of the parents at our expense.


Like this comment
Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2018 at 4:41 pm

justwondering is a registered user.

Glad to see that Amador has a principal that may stay awhile!!


Like this comment
Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 22, 2018 at 8:23 am

Jtjh is a registered user.

Though isn't that what they all say in the early days? :-)


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