By Maureen Robertson
When the new school year starts at the end of August, Olive Peirce Middle School and Ramona Community School students will see new faces in the principal’s office.
OPMS Principal Linda Solis announced her retirement last month, and RCS Principal Carol Tennebaum’s retirement is expected to become official at the March 21 meeting of Ramona Unified trustees. Both retirements will take effect on June 28.
Thirty-five years ago, Tennebaum arrived for a job interview dressed in what she thought was a fashionable A-line jumper. The meeting was in a trailer next to the Ramona Elementary cafeteria and it wasn’t until later that she learned a key member of the interview panel suspected she was pregnant, but of course couldn’t ask.
“I was lucky enough that they hired me anyway,” she said.
That was 1978. She was hired as a speech and language pathologist and since then has played a variety of roles for Ramona Unified School District. During that time, she and husband Terry, who retired a year and a half ago as a teacher at Montecito High School, raised three children in Ramona: Bethany is a teacher, Jeddy works in law enforcement, and Amber is married to a U.S. Marine staff sergeant and lives in Louisiana.
Tennebaum apparently has a knack for getting grants. One created the career library at Ramona High, and another paid for the district’s first classroom computers in 1980. Among others was the 1991 grant that established check-out libraries for parents and paid for workshops to help parents of preschool and early primary children make reading fun and meaningful at home.
She also received a $200,000 and a $300,000 grant for the district in 1992, one to aid parents of children new to English and one for science students and teachers.
A former Hanson Elementary principal, she ends her career as principal of one of the district’s alternative schools. While a new principal at the school could create some anxiety, Tennebaum has no qualms about the transition at RCS next year.
“The teachers here are so strong and so passionate and so connected with kids and families and what they’re doing,” she said they are prepared to lead themselves.
For now, the Tennebaums plan to stay in Ramona, she said, but they may decide later to move closer to children and grandchildren.
Solis’ career in education began in 1969, the year she graduated from the University of Texas. She joined the Ramona school district as an eighth-grade teacher at Olive Peirce in 1988 and has been principal for the past 18 years.
She is this year’s Association of California School Administrators Middle School Principal of the Year for Region 18. Last year, the school received notoriety as a model school after earning distinction as a “School to Watch,” a national distinction.
Her husband retired from the Navy last year. With their son and his family in Delaware and their extended family in Texas, they likely will leave California to be closer to both.
“For us, it’s all about family right now,” she said, even though “we love the San Diego area.”
A replacement for Solis had not been selected by the end of last week, according to the district office, but a decision may be made this week.