The Byron Union School District (BUSD) is getting some new leaders. As of July 1, a new superintendent, as well as new principals at Timber Point Elementary (TPE) and Excelsior Middle School (EMS), will officially be on the job.
At the district office, Dr. Reyes Gauna has already begun making the rounds and getting to know his new position as BUSD’s superintendent. Gauna is currently the assistant superintendent for the Stockton Unified School District and was approved by the BUSD board last week.
BUSD Board President David Turner feels Gauna is an excellent candidate to take on the unique challenges presented by the Byron district.
“This decision was reached after consultation and input from community members, staff and the board, through sensing sessions designed to determine important traits, characteristics, experience and leadership factors for the next superintendent,” Turner said.
Since former superintendent Debbie Gold resigned her position six months ago, Rami Muth has been acting as interim superintendent while the search committee sought a permanent replacement. An educator with 40 years of experience and former superintendent for her home district of Martinez, Muth stepped out of retirement to guide the district until the vacancy could be filled. She will be coaching Gauna in his new role before returning to retirement.
“Words do not adequately express how positive this experience has been for me,” Muth said. “It has been an honor and a privilege serving the Byron community as an interim superintendent ... I know that the district is poised and ready to move forward under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Gauna.”
Gauna has been in education for over 20 years, in a range of positions that afford him an unique perspective on his new responsibilities. Starting as a campus custodian, Gauna worked his way through the ranks of education, teaching kindergarten through eighth grade and adult education, working as campus safety monitor, counselor for kindergarten through 12th grade, all the way up to director of educational services and serving as school principal.
“I’ve served different schools in these capacities,” Gauna said, “but I had a friend say that Byron needed me as much as I needed them.”
Ready for the next step in his administrative career, Guana took a trip to Byron and found the area’s small-town atmosphere appealing. He felt his experience working with elementary and middle school students would lend itself well to the district. And his time spent working in high schools would help him to better prepare students for their future educational challenges.
“The board is really friendly, and the teachers are really friendly, and I felt an instant connection,” he said. “When I came and met with the board, it was warm and welcoming and refreshing ... like having a conversation with a group of folks that were as equally passionate as I was about helping our community.”
Gauna has already begun shadowing Muth and plans to learn as much as he can by listening and watching. He hopes to support his staff and teachers in their work while securing the district’s budget and establishing a vision for its future.
At EMS, Erika Parlog will be taking up the reins from current principal Paul Gengler, who is retiring. Muth led the search for a new principal and was instrumental in choosing Parlog, who has roots in BUSD.
Commenting on Parlog’s new role, Muth said, “Her knowledge of the community, coupled with extensive experience in master scheduling, implementing a positive behavior system and providing support for technology integration, make her an outstanding fit for the school at this time.”
Parlog is currently an assistant principal at Freedom High School in Oakley, but she began her education career as a substitute teacher in the Byron district. After earning her teaching credential, she began teaching at Discovery Bay Elementary, then moved on to administration in the district office. There Parlog had the opportunity to get a taste of middle school leadership when she filled in as vice principal for EMS on several occasions. She then became an assistant principal at Freedom, where she’s spent the last two years.
“I think it will be helpful for me to bring back my elementary background to support incoming sixth graders,” Parlog said. “And I will also be able to help all the students be prepared to be successful in high school, since I know what that looks like.”
A longtime resident of Discovery Bay, Parlog added that she looks forward to creating a positive culture at EMS and supporting the kids in her own community.
At TPE, students and faculty will be welcoming Paula McEvoy, a vice principal from the Antioch Unified School District. Currently working at two schools, McEvoy brings 23 years of experience with her to Timber Point.
“Paula has been a site administrator for many years and is known for her strength in instructional leadership and positive behavioral support,” Muth said of McEvoy. “Byron is fortunate to have such an exceptional addition to the team.”
McEvoy has been part of Antioch’s district for a long time, but looks forward to the intimacy of a small district and to working closely with her fellow administrators. She has already had the opportunity to meet both Parlog and the district’s third principal, Pierre Laleau.
“I think that each of our schools have their own needs, but what I felt was that we three principals really want to work together,” McEvoy said. “My students will go to Erika, so we want to make sure that we are doing some vertical alignment to what Erika is doing. But each of our schools still have their own individual needs.”
Though none of them officially begin their new positions for another month, all three of BUSD’s new leaders have begun working with each other and their teams to plan for the next school year.
“It’s always exciting to bring on new principals,” Gauna said. “And some might say it’s a tall order to have a new superintendent and new principals, but this is an opportunity to bring in fresh ideas.”