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A Newport-Mesa homecoming

New Supt. Fred Navarro is happy to be back in the school district. He left to gain experience that he hopes to apply to the NMUSD.

July 17, 2012|By Alicia Lopez
  • Newport-Mesa Unified School District's new Supt. Fred Navarro officially starts Aug. 1.
Newport-Mesa Unified School District's new Supt.… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

From the smallest kindergartner to the man at the top of the educational ladder, it's all about listening and learning.

That's what new Supt. Fred Navarro, 55, said he will be doing in his early days with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

His first full day was July 11. Although he has already met with some board members and administrators, including interim Supt. Robert Barbot, he said he will meet with other educators to get a lot of "face time," as he tries to gather information.

"What's going well, what they like, what they'd like to be done better, it's pretty open-ended," he said, adding that he will also be looking out for any problems. "Am I seeing what I'm supposed to be seeing?"

He said he will also be spending a lot of time in the classroom observing.

"I don't think that you ever forget being a teacher, if it was something you worked at, something you wanted to hone," he said.

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He said when observing in the classroom he can help give feedback and often works with the teacher on specific issues they might want him to focus on.

It was partly Navarro's connection to the district that got him interested in the job. He said when he read about what was going on with former Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard, who was dismissed after being convicted of two felonies, he thought, "I think I can help."

Navarro was the director of secondary education in the district before he left in 2006. Before that he had been principal of Costa Mesa High School for three years.

"When you leave a district you don't leave without leaving a piece of yourself with it," he said.

He said he had a "tremendously wonderful professional experience" at the district, partly because of some of the things that were accomplished when he was part of it.

He said Mesa was not performing well, but in the three years he was there, the students made a 75-point Academic Performance Index gain.

"It was a collaboration," he said. "We worked together, the teachers and staff."

He used a similar solution as superintendent of the Lennox School District in the Los Angeles area, he said.

It was a matter of the department chairs and teachers meeting regularly to discuss what they want to see, what is working, and what needs more work.

"Everyone has a hand it in and a chance to really be involved throughout the process," he said.

During his time as Costa Mesa High principal, he became a mentor for Estancia High School Principal Kirk Bauermeister.

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