There will be a change in leadership at Montemalaga Elementary School at the end of the current school year.
Sandi Tsosie, currently the assistant principal at Palos Verdes Intermediate, will take over as principal Jody Pastell retires after 45 years as an educator.
Pastell, an award-winning educator with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified system for 30 years, has been principal at Montemalaga for five years. Before that, she held the top administrative spot for 15 years at Cornerstone Elementary. She won an educator of the year award for teaching math and Spanish and is known for teaching tumbling classes to students when her own children attended Rancho Vista Elementary.
“Jody Pastell has dedicated her career to serving the children and families of this school community,” wrote Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss in a statement. “We are forever grateful for her amazing contributions to educating our youth.”
Tsosie, a South Bay native, has been the assistant principal at the intermediate level for three years and she’s eager about her new role.
“I’ve always wanted to work with elementary students,” Tsosie said. “Working elementary provides me with the opportunity to make early positive connections to school and I can’t wait to be a part of those memories.”
Tsosie is also a mother of two children under the age of four.
Amid the current nationwide pandemic, Tsosie learned of her appointment through what’s become the norm: the online platform Zoom.
“I was lucky to have my family around to celebrate,” Tsosie said.
Before coming to the Peninsula, Tsosie worked in the Hermosa Beach City School District, serving as a career and technical education instructor, an intervention coordinator, a student council advisor, a detention coordinator and a girls’ basketball coach.
While she finishes her time at PVIS, Tsosie’s goals remain the same.
“My goal is to ensure students are able to grow as individuals, so they can reach their highest level of achievement,” Tsosie said. “I am committed to ensuring students are provided a safe environment where they can thrive around a community of caring citizens.”
Tsosie is happy to have the chance to stay within the PVPUSD.
“(The district) has cultivated a supportive district where students are the main focus of decision making,” she said. “PVPUSD is a community district and thrives from building and maintaining strong relationships with families and its community members.”
She learned her love of education as a young child, in her mother’s classroom.
“I loved to play and write on (my mother’s) whiteboard,” Tsosie said. “After school, my sister and I would play in her classroom. That’s when I knew that I was bound to work in education.”
When she’s away from the classroom, Tsosie enjoys spending time with her family.
“My husband, who is also a teacher, and I spend a lot of time outdoors with our two children,” she said. “When we are not exploding outside or at the beach, we are snuggled inside watching movies.”
Tsosie takes the reigns at Montemalaga on June 30.
By Nicholas Ingram Contributing writer PV News