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In need of ‘kid fix’

She imagines herself in front of a classroom, teaching a group of wide-eyed pupils learning the finer points of Spanish, French and Italian.

Yet Susan Pastorini, the new principal at Ready Springs Elementary School, finds herself setting schedules, meeting new teachers and, on Thursday, dodging painters and carpenters moving cabinets and buckets of paint to and from her cramped office.

It’s the proverbial dilemma faced by many school administrators who have matured from teacher to upper management, rising in stature and compensation.



“I’m one of these people that needs my kid fix,” said Pastorini, a San Francisco native hired to oversee nearly 400 students at Ready Springs and the nearby Vantage Point Charter School campuses. “I intend to be as visible as possible on both campuses.”

Pastorini, 50, comes to the Ready Springs district from Santa Clara, where the San Francisco native was a principal and assistant superintendent for two different districts for more than 20 years. Her husband, Butch, is an administrator with the Santa Clara Unified School District.




Pastorini, who has owned property in Lake Wildwood for nearly a decade, takes over for former superintendent/principal Merrill Grant, who left Ready Springs after more than five years in Penn Valley to take a job in Colusa County.

For the 2004-05 school year, the district’s administrative duties will be handled by the neighboring Pleasant Valley School District, which frees Pastorini from some of the minutiae of signing off on such items as check registers and purchase orders that are required of a district superintendent.

“I am excited,” Pastorini said. “I didn’t think this was going to happen.”

Pastorini plans to spend the next month meeting with parents, teachers and her staff. When the school year begins Aug. 18, Pastorini plans to begin working on the daunting task of learning every student’s name, while making sure they never forget hers.

“I’m looking for a community feel here,” she said. “Test scores are great, but they don’t move me. I want more than that.”

Improving test scores is an ongoing goal at Ready Springs, she said. In the most recent Academic Performance Index scores, students at Ready Springs scored below their counterparts in the nearby Pleasant Valley School District, but ahead of some of the larger elementary districts in Nevada City and Grass Valley.

With a new affordable-housing complex completed less than a block away from the school, Ready Springs in 2004-05 might be one of the few school districts in western Nevada County that gains population this year.

Pastorini grew up in San Francisco’s Mission District and graduated from Lowell High School before graduating from the University of California-Davis, where she studied French and taught Italian at a Davis high school. She’s fluent in French and Italian and is conversational in Spanish.

Her teaching credentials allow her to teach both French and Italian.

“I’m useless,” she said, laughing. “Absolutely useless. I think if they needed me to teach an enrichment class, I could. I’ll see what they want.”

Pastorini said she can envision Ready Springs as the hub of Penn Valley activity, whether it relates to school activities or not.

“I would like this to be the central place for things to happen around here.”


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