After six years of leading the Fullerton Joint Union High School District as superintendent, Scott Scambray has announced through an email sent to teachers and parents of students that he will be retiring on June 30.
“I’m excited and scared at the same time — it’s just going to be a new chapter in my life,” Scambray said. “I have been an educator for 36 years and a superintendent for 13 of those years, so I felt it was time to move on to the next phase of my life.”
Scambray, who was hired to start his position in the FJUHSD on July 1, 2015, announced his retirement on Jan. 21.
He says he plans on taking on a hobby after retiring, like golf, and hopes to travel around the United States and visit Boston to watch his youngest daughter play volleyball in college.
Before his six years at the FJUHSD, Scambray started his career in Fresno as a math teacher at Hoover High School and football and basketball coach at Bullard High School for nine years.
He also took on the roles as assistant principal at Rancho Verde High School, principal at Moreno Valley High School and assistant superintendent at the Val Verde Unified School District, all of which are located in Moreno Valley. Finally, he became superintendent at the Merced Union High School District in Central California before moving to the FJUHSD.
Scambray brought about changes to the district that students, teachers and administrators agree have been beneficial.
One of these contributions includes the major focus he had on student-centered instruction in the district, principal Allen Whitten said.
“I’m so happy for him because I know retirement is something we all look forward to at some point, and I congratulate him, but I’ll definitely miss him,” Whitten said.
Scambray pushed teachers to transform how they teach to ensure that students are more actively engaged in lessons by using technology. He and the district provided professional development and made big investments to educate teachers on how to better implement technology in their classrooms at educator conferences, the principal said.
“He really wanted teachers providing a learning environment that had kids talking to each other, talking to the teacher and wrestling with concepts and materials — not simply sitting and taking notes while the teacher lectures,” he said.
Scambray’s most notable action as the district’s leader was when he proposed that the FJUHSD introduce chromebooks to students and teachers. The first FJUHSD campus to start implementing a 1-to-1 ratio of chromebooks to students was Buena Park High School in September 2016 with Sunny Hills following in January of the following year.
“We were at one meeting and he had said, ‘We’re going to get chromebooks,’ and it was sort of a shock because we hadn’t discussed it too much as a team,” FJUHSD board president Marilyn Buchi said. “He stepped up and said we could do it, and we found the money, and I think because of that, we were a lot better positioned than a lot of high school districts when the [corona]virus hit.”
Advanced Placement Chemistry teacher Andrew Colomac agreed that the plan to give each student a device to use at school and at home was the superintendent’s most significant contribution.
“It was almost like he was seeing into the future because he was the one responsible for pushing chromebooks to all the schools,” Colomac said. “Because of that, he really paved the way for us to survive during the pandemic.”
Since everyone was already familiar with how to use such portable devices to access class material with apps such as Google Classroom, students who had to transition to distance learning last March because of the coronavirus pandemic did not have as much trouble keeping up with classes compared with students in other districts, he said.
Sunny Hills senior Jenna Beining, who is halfway through her term as the student board member, had fond thoughts of Scambray.
“In his five years here, he transformed our district and improved our high school experience in so many ways,” Beijing said. “I will forever be thankful for his service as our superintendent and all the improvements he’s made to our community, campuses and day-to-day lives.”
So while many people in the FJUHSD will miss Scambray, they hope to find a leader who will fulfill the superintendent position as Scambray had.
To find a suitable candidate for the open position, the board will first send a request for proposal to various search firms and hire what trustees deem as the most qualified company. The firm will then develop a brochure to advertise the position and its requirements, Buchi said.
After receiving applications from many different people, the search firm would then screen these applicants and send their recommendations to the board for consideration, Buchi said.
This time around, the board sent out a request for proposal in the first week of February to the following firms: California School Boards Association; Cosca; Education Staffing & Management Solution; Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates and Leadership. Trustees plan on making a selection by Feb. 23 after interviewing representatives from each firm, and candidate interviews will be scheduled for May with the hope that the new superintendent will start his or her term on July 1, Buchi said.
“It’s always sad when someone who’s a part of the district moves on to other things, so he’ll be missed,” Buchi said. “He’s also always been very visible on campuses, and it seems like whenever we’re at one of the schools, the students really know who he is.”
Like the students, teachers and administrators, Scambray said he will also miss being superintendent in the FJUHSD.
“There are so many great things that go on every day and on every campus here in the district,” Scambray said. “Keep up the good work.”