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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Esseln reflects on working at the district office during pandemic

By Vanessa Wang | Junior Editor

Former Assistant Principal Ruth Esseln shows appreciation for district teachers
Photo Courtesy of Ruth Esseln

   Last July, former Assistant Principal Ruth Esseln left her position at Gabrielino High School to become the director of student support and assessments at the San Gabriel Unified School District office. Instead of interacting with students, she now communicates with parents and monitors various school programs. 

   Esseln had worked at Gabrielino for 11 years prior to her move to the district office. After over a decade spent working with the same people, saying goodbye proved to be harder than she thought.

   “To transition to the new team [was] a big difference,” Esseln explained. “I still, of course, interact and talk to [my old coworkers], but not seeing them every day is kind of weird and sad! That part of leaving has been tough, but I [have gotten] to know people at the District.”

   While she was at Gabrielino, two people Esseln worked with every day were Principal Sharron Heinrich and Assistant Principal Vince Lopez. 

    “Ms. Esseln and I worked closely together on many things,” explained Heinrich, adding that “she oversaw curriculum and instruction which covers everything related to classes, teaching, assessment, and counseling. She was a very busy person and very good at the work she did!”

   Esseln’s new job responsibilities consist of coordinating major SGUSD assessments, such as the CAASPP, SAT, and AP exams. Aside from overseeing these tests, she also works on attendance, inter-district permits, and safety planning for SGUSD.

   “It has been a tremendous benefit to have Ms. Esseln in her current role during this time,” said Superintendent Jim Symonds. “[She] brings a very unique skill set to her position, which has truly benefitted [us].”

   Another important part of Esseln’s new position is checking on elementary school students to ensure that their programs are working smoothly and that students are learning what they need to learn.

   “I am part of a grading committee and an elementary assessment group. So, I get to meet with elementary school teachers and talk to them about how we can figure out what students are learning,” Esseln explained. “We put a lot of money and a lot of resources into the programs, [so] we want to make sure they are effective.”

   Aside from the normal adjustments that come with taking on a new job, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided some extra challenges for Esseln.

   “I don’t actually know what it’s like at the district office when it’s normal!” laughed Esseln. “It’s pretty empty up there.” She added, “People go into education because they like people, and so to go into an office when you’re all by yourself is really sad!”

   Despite these struggles, Esseln enjoys the new role she plays at the District Office. Her love for her job has made the experience a positive one and she is looking forward to what the future holds.

   “There’s a heart to San Gabriel,” Esseln stated fondly. “Even though we’ve had a lot of changes in the past, there’s sort of this core of goodness that has remained the entire time that I’ve been here […] I’m getting to meet all these people, and they’re all genuinely nice […] That is why I love working at San Gabriel Unified.”

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Esseln reflects on working at the district office during pandemic