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Westside Union School District Superintendent Regina Rossall has worked in the district since 1971.
Rossall believes education can change the world
October 31, 2022
Name: Regina Rossall Award: Marcus Foster Memorial Award for Administrator Excellence Title: Superintendent, Westside Union School District
More than 18,000 days. It’s long enough to see your students become parents and then grandparents to new children arriving at your school. It’s long enough to see your community evolve and your district adapt to serve students’ changing needs. It’s long enough to guide your district through a crisis, or two.
It’s also how long Westside Union School District Superintendent Regina Rossall has been an educator, a profession she believes is one of the most important.
“Every day I come to work and I expect something important to happen,” she said. “I’m passionate about education because I believe other than being a parent, it’s the most important job in the world. If we do a good job — that changes the world.” Rossall has been honored with ACSA’s 2022 Marcus Foster Memorial Award for Administrator Excellence.
With 53 years of experience in education, Rossall is not only at the top of the district organizational. chart, she is also her district’s longest-tenured employee. After briefly working in Rowland USD, she joined Westside Union School District in 1971, working her way up as a teacher, counselor, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent of educational services before reaching the position of superintendent.
One month after becoming superintendent in 2004, Rossall received shocking news: the district was not able to pay its bills. She had to come up with a plan — and fast — to keep schools operational. She met with the county superintendent and assistant superintendent of business for guidance.
“As a brand-new superintendent, you don’t really want those people knowing your name for that particular reason,” she quipped.
Through her leadership, the district reached solvency. But it wasn’t long before the next challenge presented itself — the Great Recession in 2008. She worked hard with the board to maintain the service level for students. As a result, no one was ever laid off.
Looking back, she says the crises were a “terrific learning experience” for someone who came from the educational services side of administration. Her colleagues today say her knowledge of school finance is unparalleled and it helps her be creative in implementing plans to meet student needs.
It seems the only constant during Rossall’s time at WUSD has been change. When she first came to the district, there were 1,600 students. Today, there are close to 9,000. The district also became more diverse during that time, going from majority White students to majority non-White.
Rossall has embraced these changes and has been resolute in her commitment to ensuring that every student and every parent — no matter their color, national origin, first language or economic status — feels that Westside USD recognizes their worth, welcomes their contributions and cultivates their love of learning.
She’s secured training for all staff on working with students from a variety of backgrounds, including LGBTQ+, foster, African American, Hispanic and Asian students, and has made sure these students have the supports they need.
Among the things Rossall has made better at WUSD: She’s implemented a new standards-based grading system that ensures students are evaluated based on their academic ability, not their social-economic status; she created the first Educational Services Division in the district and standardized curriculum and teacher training; and she has forged a unique partnership with the local community college that has helped her kids see themselves as future college students.
Rossall has high expectations for her students and her schools. Each school in the K-8 district is WASC accredited, an unusual feat for elementary schools. As a testament to the quality of education in WUSD, her schools have also won several California Distinguished School Awards, Gold Ribbon Awards and Golden Bell Awards, in addition to ACSA region and state awards.
Between raising her family and being an administrator, Rossall has also given her time to the community at large. By one count, she has volunteered with 37 different local organizations and has used these commitments to advocate for children and forge relationships that benefit families throughout the Antelope Valley. For instance, she has used connections with business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International and the local hospital to tap into new ways to prepare students for local workforce needs.
When she sees her former students out and about, she is “enormously proud” of what they have become — some are community leaders and successful business owners. She recently hired a general contractor who was a former student of hers in 8th grade for some remodeling work.
“I was really proud of the fact that I could hire somebody that I invested in somewhere down the line. It was sort of circular,” she said. “It’s just such an awesome experience to say, gosh — I knew that kid when.”
ACSA’s 2022 Marcus Foster Memorial Award for Administrator Excellence winner Regina Rossall.
ACSA’s 2022 Marcus Foster Memorial Award for Administrator Excellence winner Regina Rossall.