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Sunghie P. Okino
Los Alamitos Elementary School
Los Alamitos Unified School District
Los Alamitos, California

Since Prinicipal Sunghie P. Okino began her tenure at Los Alamitos Elementary School in 2006, Okino has transformed the kindergarten through fifth-grade school into a model of pioneering practices. The process of change began with Okino asking the hard questions about student achievement and working with teachers in grade-level professional learning communities to study data and analyze research-based practices. Professional development included training in Cognitively Guided Instruction in math, and an intense focus on writing through volunteer summer workshops. Teachers are now expert coaches in targeted instruction, Thinking Maps, and workshop models, with systematized practices including number talks, writers’ workshops, readers’ workshops, and inquiry-based learning. Academic performance has soared, with significant leaps in math and reading as measured by California’s Academic Performance Index. “Because of her leadership, students are thriv-ing well beyond expectations in every area prioritized by our district,” says Superintendent Sherry Kropp. Okino also nurtures partnerships that engage the community and promote health and wellness through events such as a parent-generated Fit-a-Thon, which also raises funds for classroom technologies. “Where once Los Alamitos was known as the school ‘on the other side of the tracks,’” says Okino, “today, students, teachers, staff and parents proudly chant, ‘LAE is the place to be!’” Okino’s credentials include an M.P.P. from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy in Michigan, an M.A. from Claremont Graduate University, an M.S. from Pepperdine University, and an Ed. D. from the University of La Verne, all in California.