The teachers and staff of Live Oak Unified along with all the students started their school year last week with former Live Oak High Principal Mat Gulbrandsen as the new Superintendent.
I'm sure there were no feelings of trepidation or fear coming from the schools, as Gulbrandsen has always been a very popular and likeable coach, assistant principal and principal.
His tenure dates back all the way to 1996 when Gulbrandsen coached varsity wrestling, varsity track in 1999-2000 and JV football from 1998 to 2007.
Gulbrandsen was Athletic Director for six years and President of the Sacramento Valley League five years.
He served as Realignment Chair for the Northern Section California Interscholastic Federation (NSCIF) American Conference for seven years was the WASC Chair 2002-2003 for six years accreditation and 2009-2010 for another six years accreditation.
He served as the AdHock Committee Chair of ROP in 2009-2010 and the Steering Committee chair 2010-2012.
Gulbrandsen was the AVID District Director last school year.
While serving as the Principal of Live Oak High School and through the extraordinary efforts of the staff and students, Live Oak High received recognition for: US News and World Report Bronze Award 2007-2008; California Distinguished School WASC six year Accreditation in 2009-2010 and US News and World Reports Bronze Award in 2012-2013.
Gulbrandsen graduated from UC Davis in 1995 with a Bachelors of Arts in Social Science and completed his student teaching at Chico State and Live Oak High in 1995-1996.
He taught US History, World History, English 11 and Business Math at Live Oak High before becoming Assistant Principal in 2001 until until 2007, adding Live Oak Middle School to his daily work schedule as Principal the 2006-2007 school year.
He served as Live Oak High's Principal from 2007 until this summer when former Superintendent Tom Pritchard left the position.
Although is office is now just down the street on Pennington, Gulbrandsen makes the time to visit the different school sites and interact with the staff and students on a regular basis.
He is excited about overseeing all of the campuses and feels like he grew up in the area as an educator. He will make quite a difference as someone who knows first hand the schools, the teachers and the students.
Gulbrandsen comes from a family of teachers, his mother Patty, a graduate of Gridley High, and his father Chris, a former teacher of Gridley High are both retired now.
It is because of the impact he saw his parents make in students eyes that he always knew he wanted to be a teacher. His first memory of a school was as a small child on his Dad's back in a backpack on the sideline of a track meet and sitting in on a class.
Page 2 of 2 - His Dad was a teacher at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, during Mat's senior year.
“My parents always provided great advice,” he stated.
Gulbrandsen also gets great support from his wife Carolyn, a sixth grade teacher at Gray Avenue Middle School in Yuba City. They have a daughter who is a sophomore at River Valley High School and a fifth grade daughter and second grade son at Terra Buena Elementary School.
Both daughters excel at soccer and weekends are often spent traveling around the State for their matches.
The appearance of Live Oak Schools, in particular the High School and Middle School, has taken on a modernized look with new classrooms with a new cafeteria for the high school.
The improvements at the high school were done with bond money and the middle school phase two portion will be done when the State funding comes in. The architecture plans are done and ready when that time comes. The high school has 530 students and the middle school has 460. Luther Elementary has 650.
Each school will receive a survey for staff to fill out and prioritize what is most important to be fixed so that the board can stay in line with needed repairs.
“The kids get excited with the new buildings. It is now a reflection of the students. They worked extra hard over the last two years and over 50 percent of the high school students are eligible for four year colleges.
“Our staff works hard. I shared with the K-12 staff that they are a reflection of the education system. They prepare the students to be college and career ready,” he stated.
Now that school has started at Live Oak, it is time to make sure all classrooms are ready.
This will be the last year of Star Testing. Instead of multiple choice, paper and pencil testing, the times have changed to computer and performance tasks.
“I am happy I am in a spot where I can support the staff district wide and make positive changes to the district,” he stated.