New principal outlines plans for Birdrock Elementary

New Bird Rock Elementary School Principal Sally Viavada intends to hit the ground running this fall with a focus on technological innovation.

But she’s going to need to take a break early on.

“I’m eight months pregnant and I’ll be there for the beginning of the school year and out for six to eight weeks and back in November,” she said, adding that she’ll host informal “coffees” to meet and greet parents and community members to “hear what their interests and concerns are, what they think is going well,” once she returns.

Viavada is grateful to outgoing Bird Rock Principal Carol Barry, who is moving on to become head of The Bishop’s School Middle School.

“She left the school in great shape, put exciting instruction plans in place, and I’m going to continue with the great work she began.”

There is one thing the new principal is certain to do.

“I want to focus on increasing the use of technology in the classroom,” she said noting the I21 technology computer laptop program funded by San Diego Unified School District for third-graders last year will be expanded to the fourth grade. “We have all the equipment,” she said. “The next step is to work on meaningfully incorporating it into our teaching.”

Viavada earned a bachelor’s degree in business and economics at UC Santa Barbara and a master’s in education from National University in San Diego. After attending the Educational Leadership Development Academy (ELDA), a collaboration of University of San Diego and local school districts designed to build a pool of high-quality principals and instructional leaders, she taught third through sixth grades in Clairemont.

That was followed by Viavada with a four-year stint as a staff developer, a resource teacher working with other teachers.

“I worked with every teacher in the school to improve instruction,” she said.

After that, she worked with Carol Barry in the superintendent’s office as a liaison and resource teacher. For the last two years, she’s been vice principal at Standley Middle School in University City.

Lisa Bonebrake, one of an eight-member panel at Bird Rock Elementary that chose Viavada, said she impressed her as “a well-rounded person, creative thinker and problem solver.

“That is what we hope to achieve for our students,” Bonebrake said, adding that Viavada is also well respected by her colleagues.

Bonebrake added that Viavada’s past experience as a parent liaison at the district level and her prior experience with Carol Barry with whom she “shares a philosophy and priorities” will serve her well.

She added that being the school’s new principal also automatically makes her a governing board member of the La Jolla Cluster Association representing La Jolla High, Muirlands Middle, and Bird Rock, La Jolla and Torrey Pines elementaries with the district.

As a principal, Viavada knows she’ll have to strike a balance between operations and academics.

“There’s things that have to be done on a daily basis to run a school smoothly while making sure each student is living up to their full potential and getting the best education possible,” she said.