Waddell and Magee vie for county superintendent of schools job


Two employees of the San Mateo County Office of Education, Deputy Superintendent Gary Waddell and Associate Superintendent Nancy Magee, are vying to take over their boss's job this June after Anne Campbell declined to run for a third term as the county's superintendent of schools.

The county superintendent is far from a figurehead, managing a $90 million budget and a staff of 450 while overseeing the 23 school districts in the county. As of 2016, Campbell had a total salary of more than $240,000, the Transparent California website reports.

Both candidates live on the Coastside -- Waddell in Pacifica and Magee in Half Moon Bay -- and both have long tenures in education.

Magee, 58, told The Almanac in an email that she is running "as a passionate advocate for all students, to support our educator workforce, and to ensure students get an excellent education and graduate with relevant skills."

Waddell, 55, said in an email that he chose to run "because I have spent my entire career -- as a teacher, counselor, principal, deputy superintendent, and statewide curriculum leader -- in the service of equity."

On April 28, the two candidates met in a League of Women Voters forum in Redwood City.

Waddell told the audience that he was the first in his family to go to college, ending up with four degrees, including a doctorate.

"Education and service are in my bones," he said.

"What is in the best interest of children ... is what gets me up in the morning," he said. "Sometimes it is what keeps me awake at night."

Magee said she has been serving the needs of youth since starting her own business at 13 as a swim instructor. "I honed those skills and I went on to be a successful high school teacher and high school leader for 20 years," she said.

"Starting at the age of 13, I've been a lifelong advocate for students, driven to get better outcomes for them," she said. "I lean in, I listen, I learn and I lead with impact."

Retaining and housing teachers

The candidates were asked how local schools can retain quality teachers in an area where the cost of housing and cost of living is 40 percent higher than in other parts of California.

Waddell said changing the pathway to becoming a teacher could help. "We have to make that easier," he said. The county should also help those looking to change careers, and those who work for schools but aren't teachers, get teaching credentials, he said.

"I think we have to think outside the box ... set aside our preconceived ideas and think about what we can do," he said.

Magee said that while a teacher shortage is widespread, "the housing in San Mateo County is really a serious crisis," with teachers leaving jobs in the county because of housing costs.

She suggested local partners could offer short-term help. Real estate professionals, she said, could help new teachers find places to live.

She also suggested working with state legislators to take a "look at barriers to credentialing in the state," and working with youth to get them interested in teaching as a career.

She also said educator wellness programs are important. "We need to address their everyday health needs. It's a very stressful career," Magee said.

Technology in schools

Magee said one of her priorities is to expand career and technical education. "The world is changing quickly. We need to prepare our students to live in a world that doesn't look like the 20th century," she said.

Waddell said he sees technology as an opportunity to reach all students, not by replacing interaction between teacher and child, but by deepening it. "I believe we have a great opportunity to go to our partners and our tech sector here," he said.

Career and technical training

Waddell said that it is more important to give students a look at a lot of different careers than to train them for just one. "Career interest really stabilizes in mid-20s to 30s, typically," he said. "So preparing children for one career when they're in high school may help them for a couple years, but really isn't what they need long term."

Magee said she wants "to expand career education so every student whether attending college or not has a pathway to the best jobs of today and tomorrow."

The county office is working with the building and trades union in the hopes of growing its two-year apprenticeship program to serve more students, she said.

Nancy Magee

Age: 58

Civic, volunteer activities: San Mateo Leadership Alumni Engagement Committee, Peninsula Multifaith Coalition MLK Day of Service; San Mateo Bacon and Brewfest, San Mateo Chamber of Commerce; Burlingame on the Ave, Burlingame Chamber of Commerce; Disaster Preparedness Day, San Mateo County Fair; American Heart Association Heartwalk; Read Across America Day; YMCA Civic Engagement Advisory Council (2016-17); Coastside Democrats; Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council; Phoenix Garden Steering Committee; steering committee chair, San Mateo County Coalition for Safe Schools and Communities; and Student Programs and Services Steering Committee of the California County Superintendents Education Association (CSEA).

Involvement in schools: RESPECT! 24/7 (anti-bullying and civility initiative); providing training and guidance for schools on emergency response and The Big Five; and as associate superintendent, provides leadership for San Mateo County Court and Community Schools, infant and early start special education, and K-12 special education.

Education: Bachelor of Arts, American literature, San Diego State University; single subject teaching credential, English language arts (SDSU); school library media teacher credential (San Jose State University); master’s in library and information Science (SJSU); administrative credential in educational leadership, Point Loma Nazarene University.

Work: High school English and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) teacher (20 years); head coach, boys/girls swim and dive (four years); head coach, boys water polo (eight years); BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) mentor; AVID coordinator; WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation coordinator; high school librarian (four years); adult school site administrator (one year); district student services administrator and REMS (Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools) federal grant coordinator (three years); school library services coordinator, San Mateo County Office of Education (one year); administrator, board and community relations (SMCOE); and currently associate superintendent, student services (SMCOE) (three years).

Time in area: Moved to San Mateo County in August 2010.

Family: Grew up in Santa Maria where father was newspaper publisher. Three brothers. Two adult sons, Travis and Noah, who live in San Diego.


Gary Waddell

Age: 55

Civic, volunteer activities: Former therapeutic foster parent for children with special needs; volunteer, Equality California; former volunteer trainer, Child Abuse Prevention Center.

Involvement in schools: Drama teacher, school counselor for 15 years at elementary, middle, and high schools level (statewide Elementary Counselor of the Year). School principal at multiple sites, recognized for innovation and closing achievement and opportunity gaps. Recipient of the Jack McCall Leadership Award. Adjunct graduate university professor in education. Former chair of California’s Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee (CISC) and current chair of the state Visual and Performing Arts Committee. California County Superintendent’s Association’s STAR Award recipient, 2017.

Education: Doctorate in educational leadership, educational specialist in school administration, Master of Arts in education in school counseling, all from Western Carolina University. Bachelor of Arts in drama, University of North Carolina.

Work: Former drama teacher, school counselor and principal. Currently deputy superintendent at the San Mateo County Office of Education (seven years). A total of 11 years for SMCOE including curriculum administrator, associate superintendent of instruction, and deputy superintendent. At the SMCOE he launched the county STEAM Center and the Center for Learning Analytics, expanded preschool offerings, implemented new teacher and administrator training and credential programs, launched initiatives to close achievement and opportunity gaps, and expanded programming in environmental education/sustainability and arts education.

Time in area: San Francisco Bay Area, 15 years.

Family: Former foster parent of special needs youth, no other children.



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