Saddleback College Welcomes High School Officials to K-12 Partnership Breakfast

Saddleback College welcomed nearly 30 local high school officials to the Saddleback College K-12 Principals Breakfast on Wednesday, October 26.  The event provided an opportunity to learn about how local schools can prepare prospective Saddleback College students to succeed in their pursuit of an academic degree and Career Technical Education programs.

Saddleback College and the local K-12 form a vital resource for students who seek quality education and career training. Saddleback offers every student the opportunity to succeed with stellar faculty and staff and an impressive offering of more than 300 degree and certificate programs.

Speakers at the K-12 Partnership Breakfast included Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Director of Planning, Research & Grants Gretchen Bender, Professor of Automotive Technology Cliff Meyer, and President of the Saddleback Associated Student Government Joseph Hassine.

In his presentation, Dr. O’Connor stressed the importance of building students’ basic skills so that they would be more likely to succeed in their post-secondary education. Saddleback is focused on bridging the gap between high school and college-level math, reading, and writing courses to affect the achievement of students as they transition between segments.

The officials from local high schools who attended included:
Capistrano Unified School District Adult Education Principal Dr. Robert Nye
Capistrano Unified School District Trustees Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson, Sue Palazzo, and Dr. Gary Pritchard
Capistrano Valley Christian School, Head of Schools Dr. Ron Sipus
Capistrano Valley High School, Principal Kevin Astor
Dana Hills High School Assistant Principal Cindy Steinert
Foothill High School Principal Al Marzilli
Irvine High School Assistant Principal Melinda Fowler
J. Serra Catholic High School Director of Counseling Olivia Huie
Mission Viejo High School Principal Dr. Ray Gatfield
Northwood High School Assistant Principal Lerona Dickson
Saddleback Valley Unified School District, District Coordinator of Instruction Cathy Kane
San Juan Hills High School Principal Tom Ressler and Assistant Principal Eric Paulsen
San Clemente High School Assistant Principal Cameron Lovett
Santa Margarita Catholic High School President Paul Crary
Serra High School, Principal Rich Bellante
Tesoro High School, Principal Dr. Dan Burch and Assistant Principal Sean McNamara
Trabuco Hills High School, Principal Craig Collins
Tustin Unified School District, Chief Academic Officer Kathie Nielsen
Tustin Unified School District, Trustee Francine Scinto
Woodbridge High School, Assistant Principals Sheila Adams and Chris Krebs

Successful Accreditation Team Follow-up Visit

I am pleased to report that yesterday’s visit by a team from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) was highly successful. Dr. Joan Smith, chair of the visiting team, commented that she and her colleagues were “very impressed” with the progress made by the district. She commended Saddleback for our well-written follow-up report and well-prepared faculty, staff, and management. She also greatly appreciated our tremendous cooperation and fine hospitality.

You may recall that last Spring the ACCJC issued six district recommendations that needed to be addressed before yesterday’s follow-up visit. Under the superb leadership of Chancellor Gary Poertner and outstanding support by the Board of Trustees, the district has been working long and hard in addressing each of these recommendations over the past several months. We owe a special thanks to the District-wide Accreditation Steering Committee comprised of the following members from District Services, Saddleback, and IVC: Gary Poertner, Bob Bramucci, David Bugay, Debra Fitzsimons, Brandye D’Lena, Tere Fluegeman, Grace Garcia, Denice Inciong, Delores Irwin, Teddi Lorch, Beth Mueller, Randy Peebles, Tod Burnett, Juan Avalos, Don Busche, Claire Cesareo-Silva, Bob Cosgrove, Carmen Dominguez, Russell Hamilton, Carol Hilton, Jim Wright, Glenn Roquemore, Craig Justice, Gwen Plano, Davit Khachatryan, Lisa Davis Allen, Chris Tarman, Susan Sweet, and Kathleen Werle. There were also several additional people that served along with the steering committee members on each of the six district recommendation task forces including: Dan Walsh, Don Mineo, John Ozurovich, Gretchen Bender, Jennie McCue, Kevin O’Connor, John Edwards, Dennis Gordon, Jeff Kaufman, Angela Mahaney, Kathy Schmeidler, Keith Shackleford, Stephen Rochford, Dan Rivas, Jerry Rudman, Diane Oaks, Karima Feldhus, Will Glen, Bill Kelly, Lewis Long, Shanna Moorhouse, Cheryl Clavel, and Jim Laurie.

At Saddleback, we appreciate the great work done by our Accreditation Steering Committee including Don Busche, Bob Cosgrove, Claire Cesareo-Silva, Russell Hamilton, Carol Hilton, Carmen Dominguez, Juan Avalos, Joe Tinervia, Jim Wright, Beth Mueller, and Tere Fluegeman. A special thanks to Claire Cesareo-Silva who took on many additional responsibilities, and thanks to the many people on campus who helped support this effort.

We expect to receive the visiting team’s findings in a few weeks and an official determination from ACCJC in early February. For more information on our accreditation efforts and to see our follow-up report, please go to the college’s accreditation website at

Once again, thanks to everybody on a job well done!