Alfonso Gamino brings 26 years of education experience to Woodlake Unified School District
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
WOODLAKE – For the first time in the history of Woodlake, the predominantly Hispanic school district will have its first Latino superintendent. But that’s not how Alfonso Gamino wants to be remembered.
“I think I was selected because I was the most qualified candidate,” Gamino said. “I also consider it a privilege to help inspire students in Woodlake as proof that you can be whatever you want to be if you set goals and continue to work toward them.”
Gamino was formally announced as Woodlake’s next superintendent following closed session of the May 9 meeting of the Woodlake Unified School District board of trustees. The board approved a four-year contract with Gamino beginning on July 1, 2018 and ending on June 30, 2021 with a base salary of $167,000, or a monthly salary of $13,916.67. In addition to standard benefits, Gamino will be entitled to reimbursement for in-state conference fees, mileage, airfare, auto rentals and per diem meal expenses.
The new superintendent said he is a proponent of Common Core which challenges students to evaluate and fully understand a problem before working to find a solution. More importantly, he said all school districts should be concentrating their efforts on making students college and career ready.
“Students need to be prepare to go to college or begin a career, so we will continue to grow our career technical education,” Gamino said. “And for those students wanting to continue their education, I don’t want them to have the same experience I did where my first day of class was the first time I had ever walked onto a college campus. We want them to take field trips and understand what college is like to help be successful and not an eye-popping experience.”
Gamino was the first of his siblings to go to college, which inspired both his older and younger siblings to follow in his footsteps. After graduating from Fresno State University in 1991, Gamino got his first teaching job as a substitute teacher in his hometown of Firebaugh, where he where he went on to teach fifth grade for four years in the Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District.
Gamino has a track record of improving overall test scores at his districts over the course of his 26-year career in education. In 1996, Gamino was hired as the vice principal at Eastside Union School District in Lancaster, Calif. where his school received a visit from Gov. Gray Davis after they saw one of the highest improvements in Academic Performance Index (API) scores in the state. He went on to Bakersfield City School District where he served as director of personnel.
In 2007, Gamino got his first job in Tulare County as assistant superintendent of human resources for the Tulare Joint Union High School District.
“I wanted to be closer to the Valley where I grew up and I liked living in Tulare County,” Gamino said.
Gamino said he became somewhat familiar with Woodlake during his six years in Tulare. He said he knows Woodlake is surrounded by orange groves and reminds him of his hometown of Firebaugh when it was a small town of about 7,000 people. Gamino remembers working with Drew Sorenson, who was an area superintendent for Visalia Unified School District at that time. He said was looking forward to succeeding Sorensen who has left the district in excellent shape.
“He had 40 plus years of experience that he shared with Woodlake,” Gamino said. “I am looking forward to working in the district and continue to improve upon their successes.”
Gamino was most recently the superintendent of the Santa Paula Unified School District a small school district in the orange groves of Ventura County. Gamino and the district amicably agreed to end his contract last November. Gamino also made history there as the first superintendent of the newly formed district, which unified Santa Paula’s elementary and high school districts in 2012, a year after Woodlake voters approved a similar unification.
Gamino said he has already begun meeting with realtors to find a home in Woodlake. He said he feels it is important for the superintendent of a small town to live in that town. He said he looks forward to attending community events, joining the Woodlake Rotary Club and finding the best spots to eat in town.
“I feel that you have to live in the town where you are superintendent to really make a difference in the community,” Gamino said. “I want to be a Woodlake guy and make as much of a difference in the community as possible.”