An LMU School of Education alumnus who most recently served as principal of Dana Middle School in the Wiseburn Unified School District has been appointed superintendent of the district, effective July 1. Wiseburn serves 4,500 students in the El Segundo and West Hawthorne community near the LMU campus, including the unincorporated communities of Del Aire, Hollyglen and Wiseburn.
Blake Silvers, elected unanimously by the district’s Board of Trustees after a national search that drew 28 qualified candidates, is a multi-alumnus of LMU, having received his BA in Spanish in 2000, as well as his Secondary Education Credential and MA in Secondary Education from SOE in 2004 and 2005, respectively. He went on to earn a doctorate in education from USC.
Silvers says he continues to be guided by his SOE preparation, particularly the emphasis on social justice. “We have a lot of LMU graduates working in the Wiseburn district — in part because of the proximity, but also because of a shared culture that makes this an attractive place for LMU alumni to land,” Silvers explains. “At Wiseburn we have a very diverse student population and are always looking for new and innovative ways to educate them. We strongly believe that every student can succeed, and work hard to build equitable opportunities to ensure that we fulfill that mission. That means finding ways to provide a voice for all of the students and families in our community, and promoting a foundation of lifelong learning for all of our stakeholders.”
The Wiseburn district includes three elementary schools, a middle school, and through a unique partnership, three charter high schools operated by Da Vinci Schools. The three schools, specializing in communications, design and science, are all located in a $160 million facility that opened last November — formerly a four-story office building owned by the aerospace and defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp.
One of Silvers’ top priorities as superintendent is to expand the district’s STEM programs and continue to build on the college and career readiness of its students by leveraging relationships with the area’s robust aerospace industry, as well as other sectors. “We want to prepare our students for these jobs, which will also help build the local economy,” Silvers says.
Silvers grew up in a family of educators — his mother was a preschool teacher and his father a middle school counselor. From coaching his younger brother’s youth sports teams, he realized he too enjoyed working with children. After his undergraduate education at LMU, Silvers obtained an emergency teaching credential and taught Spanish immersion and history, along with coaching sports, in the Culver City Unified School District. He returned to LMU for his MA and secondary education credential, and ultimately was hired in 2008 as assistant principal at Dana Middle School, then promoted to principal in 2013.
During Silvers’ tenure, Dana Middle School was named a California Distinguished School and a Gold Ribbon School, as well as a National Forum School to Watch. “I fundamentally believe in providing opportunities for teachers and staff to take leadership roles, and we were able to put systems in place to do that with great success,” Silvers says. “It’s extremely rewarding to see the excitement of students who are learning from cutting-edge teaching practices, and to be able to support educators who are passionate about their craft. I am grateful to LMU for providing me with those tools.”