After being without an assistant for about six months, Woodlake Unified believes they found the perfect candidate Rick Rodriguez
WOODLAKE – After several months, Woodlake officially has a new superintendent and assistant superintendent. Former interim superintendent Laura Gonzalez was able to remove the interim label on March 11, and then about two weeks later she hired Ricardo Rodriguez to fill her old role.
It’s been a long and eventful six-month period for Gonzalez. The former assistant superintendent was named interim superintendent back in September, after Alfonso Gamino unexpectedly resigned from the position.
Despite not having an assistant,“The important stuff got done,” Gonzalez said.
She placed her name in the candidate pool, and essentially had a three-month interview process for a job she was already doing. The board was pleased with her performance and decided to keep her in the role.
Once the superintendent position was formally filled, Gonzalez was able to begin her search for an assistant. That search was then delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our focus shifted from staffing to kids [in our schools],” she said. “We had to turn our attention to making sure people were safe at work, we were cleaning facilities, and continuing instruction for kids.”
Woodlake High School principal Ricardo (Rick) Rodriguez also played a vital role in ensuring that students and staff were equipped with the proper resources. His efforts did not go unnoticed to the school board as Rodriguez had recently applied for the assistant superintendent position.
“As Rick always does, he went above and beyond to help,” Gonzalez said. “He has an amazing work ethic, is a team player, and is everything you want in an assistant.”
When searching for a candidate, Gonzalez said she was looking for someone to play a complimentary role. She wanted a person with different strengths and experiences to serve as her partner. She was new to the Woodlake school district when she first started working there, but the complete opposite is true for her new assistant.
Rodriguez is a Woodlake lifer. He was raised in the city and has now been working for the district for 25 years. He began as a middle school math teacher, then taught at the high school for 14 years. From there, he was the assistant principal at the high school before becoming the principal. His vast experience in the community and education made him an attractive candidate for the assistant superintendent role.
“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to our choice from the community, students, and staff,” Gonzalez said. “He’s from Woodlake, knows the community, knows the kids and has been deeply committed for all of his professional life. I couldn’t think of a better person who would know and understand the community better than him.”
The former principal said that he will deeply miss the day-to-day interactions with students, faculty, and staff. However, he is looking forward to expanding his reach on the community by providing support for the entire school district.
“I’m very blessed and thankful that I’ve been able to build my career here, and serve the community,” Rodriguez said.
He will have time for a good-bye tour as he will serve as both assistant superintendent and principal of the high school until the latter position has been filed. Unfortunately for him, it is very possible that the rest of his tenure will be deprived of his cherished day to day interactions with students, faculty, and staff due to the ongoing pandemic.