Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District

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PRESS RELEASE: School Leadership Transition

PALOS VERDES ESTATES (April 24, 2020) – The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD) today announced the retirement of a beloved longtime principal, Jody Pastell at Montemalaga Elementary School, and the hiring of her replacement, current Palos Verdes Intermediate School Assistant Principal Sandi Tsosie, effective June 30, 2020. PVPUSD values its employees like Ms. Pastell and Ms. Tsosie, and their impact on the success of the students in one of the leading school districts in the nation. 


Ms. Pastell’s educational career has spanned over 45 years, the past 30 as part of PVPUSD, including 15 years as principal of Cornerstone Elementary and the last five years at Montemalaga. Her four children also are PVPUSD graduates. As PTA president at Rancho Vista Elementary when her children were young, Ms. Pastell taught tumbling classes to all grade levels and organized annual tumbling performances for parents. She also served as a teacher, and has held multiple site and district-level administrative roles.   


“Jody Pastell has dedicated her career to serving the children and families of this school community,” stated superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss. “We are forever grateful for her amazing contributions to educating our youth.”  


Ms. Pastell’s achievements include the following: 


  • Coordinated the elementary math field day for the past 30 years and founded the district’s GATE Advisory Program. 
  • Wrote Intel Corporation grant for which Cornerstone Elementary was named one of the top ten elementary schools in the nation for parental involvement 
  • Awarded the PTA Golden Oak Award. 
  • Named Educator of the Year as a math and Spanish teacher at Palos Verdes Intermediate School. 

Ms. Pastell stated, “My entire career in education has been about making a difference. As an administrator for more than 20 years, I have been honored to have worked with so many outstanding educators, dedicated families, and students who have learned to be their best selves and to make good choices.”    


Ms. Sandi Tsosie will be the new principal of Montemalaga Elementary School, pending Board of Education approval. Ms. Tsosie grew up in the South Bay and served as a Career and Technical Education instructor; Title I and intervention coordinator,  student council advisor, detention coordinator, and girls’ basketball coach for the first 10 years of her career in the Hermosa Beach City School District.  Ms.Tsosie has served as assistant principal at Palos Verdes Intermediate School for the past three school years, where she led her school team in developing and refining programs such as the PBIS framework and the student leadership program, with a focus on increased schoolwide engagement. She also worked collaboratively with all stakeholders in refining the site progressive discipline plan to meet the needs of classroom teachers and students. Ms. Tsosie commented, “I am honored to be joining the Montemalaga team and I am looking forward to working with the amazing students and staff. I am strongly committed to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to achieve their highest level of success.” 


Said Board of Education President Suzanne Seymour: “Ms. Pastell has spent all of her adult years in service to others. She is an amazing role model for her students, teachers and all principals in PVPUSD. I wish her days full of fun and laughter in retirement as she enjoys her grandchildren. We are excited to promote from within, and have Ms. Tsosie as the leader of Montemalaga, where she will continue the school’s tradition of excellence.” 


PVPUSD serves approximately 11,000 students in the four cities of the Peninsula and the unincorporated areas of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.


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