Dr. Gabe Soumakian to retire as superintendent

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After serving four years as the head of the Oxnard Union High School District, Superintendent Gabe Soumakian will be retiring from his position effective Jan. 4, 2016.

“It has truly been an honor and privilege serving these past four years,” said Soumakian in a letter addressed to all OUHSD administration, faculty, and staff. “I thank you and wish you all the best.”

Under Soumakian’s leadership, the district focused heavily on embedding technology within the education system, introducing programs such as high-density WiFi and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) plan. Soumakian also oversaw the founding of Rancho Campana and worked to help ease the transition to Common Core .

“He accomplished great things in our district and increased the focus on technology, always keeping us thinking about the future for the students,” said Dr. Kim Stephenson, principal of Cam High.

Prior to his hiring by the OUHSD School Board, Soumakian spent 18 years as a teacher in subjects ranging from biology to typing, and coached football and track and field. He began working as an administrator in 1999 as an assistant principal at Glen A. Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights, eventually becoming assistant superintendent of human resources at Burbank Unified School District, where he stayed for six years. Altogether, Soumakian has been an educator for 37 years.

“I believe this is truly the most exciting time to be in education,” said Soumakian. “[…] As with most superintendents who retire and wish to contribute in their field, my next phase will be to continue to support districts to deliver on our promise to help students reach their dreams.”

“He was offered great opportunities and [retiring] was a tough decision for him to make,” said Stephenson. “It was good for himself.”

A divisive figure among the faculty, Cam High teachers had mixed feelings regarding Soumakian’s leave. “Dr. Soumakian was a leader who had vision for our district that both inspired and embittered the members,” said Ms. Chris Lawler, English teacher. “He was challenged in unique ways that few other leaders have endured.”

In September of 2014, the OUHSD School Board voted on whether or not to extend Soumakian’s contract. The trustees decided 3-2 in favor of keeping the superintendent for two more years.

Soumakian did not respond to several requests for comment by the Stinger. He will begin taking days off beginning Monday, Oct. 12.