Awards/Accolades

Brandman professor, cohort mentor is administrator of the year

March 16, 2015 by Cindy O'Dell
Brandman University cohort mentor and Perris Union High School District Superintendent Jonathan Greenberg with Linda Rush (left), immediate past president of CAEOP, and Rosemary Culleeney-Duff, president of CAEOP.

Brandman University cohort mentor and Perris Union High School District Superintendent Jonathan Greenberg with Linda Rush (left), immediate past president of CAEOP, and Rosemary Culleeney-Duff, president of CAEOP.

It’s not every superintendent who understands the challenges of being an executive or administrative assistant in a growing school district.

Jonathan Greenberg does and to honor him for the support and encouragement he’s provided, the California Association of Educational Office Professionals (CAEOP) named him their Administrator of the Year on Friday evening at their annual convention.

“He is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Lori Ortell, the executive assistant to Greenberg for the Perris Union High School District.

In her nominating letter, Ortell commended Greenberg for:

  • Creating the Classified Secretarial Initiative, which provides five professional development classes throughout the year
  • Mentioning the accomplishments of the classified staff in board meetings district newsletters
  • Having the district pay for CAEOP memberships and workshop fees
  • Encouraging staff members to serve in leadership positions with CAEOP

The role of support staff for school superintendents and principals has changed over the years. Most are now expected to act as managers rather than secretarial support, said Ortell, who represents Greenberg at meetings and other functions when necessary.

“When you have great people, you want to recognize them and you do what you can to keep them. That includes helping them in their own professional development,” said Greenberg, expressing admiration for the huge commitment he sees in the district. “Today’s high level office professionals do a lot of work that their boss used to do. They put together committees. They summarize work. They have way more responsibilities than they had before.”

Greenberg is also a mentor to educators through Brandman’s Ed.D. in organizational leadership program and teaches classes for Brandman on organizational theory and development and creativity and innovation as an adjunct professor.

“I learn more than I teach,” said Greenberg. “Instead of doing transformational change on others, we do it with others. Some programs teach what it is, but Brandman makes you not just learn it but do it.”

Greenberg sees his role as mentor as one of a guiding professional. “One of my jobs is to make sure that losing their jobs is not one of the mistakes they make. Rome wasn’t built in a day and sometimes a smaller transformation is needed and might lead to a bigger one later.”

Of his first 13 students, he expects 12 to have advanced by May, crediting Brandman’s selection process for the high level of success.

“I truly enjoy working with students. I’m a teacher at heart and watching our future leaders grow and learn and eventually replaces us is the ultimate goal – so they can do better things than we’re doing right now.

Greenberg didn’t originally intend to be a teacher or a school superintendent. He started at UC Davis only to have his ultimate goal of being a doctor derailed by “one long quarter” in a calculus class. He eventually switched to history, transferred to UCLA after meeting the woman who would become his wife and eventually landed his first job teaching eighth-graders in San Dimas.

A master’s in school management (because he was interested in better representing teachers, not the administration) put him on his district’s radar and he was tapped to fill in for an assistant principal on leave. He expected to return to the classroom but 33 years later in 17 various roles eventually led to his position at Perris Union High School District.

Along the way, he’s earned the admiration of district’s office professionals, to the point that other districts in Riverside County look to his leadership, said Ortell.

“Others are asking what we do and how we make our employees feel so good,” she said. In her eyes, Greenberg is a key piece to that puzzle.

Related stories:

  • Fresno school district principal is administrator of the year
  • Doctoral students moving up begins while class is still in sessions

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