The school board voted unanimously on May 21 to hire Ms. Cesario, culminating a search that began in December, when Eric Hartwig announced his retirement after serving as the two-school district's superintendent since 2007.
Ms. Cesario, 48, has served as assistant superintendent of educational services in the Santa Clara district for six years. Before that, she was the district's director of educational services.
In her current position, she directly oversees three middle schools and two elementary schools, she said in an interview. But she also works with administrators of all 24 schools in the K-12 district, she said.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Cesario taught third-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students, and was an elementary school principal for six years. She also served a three-year stint as a K-12 coordinator of curriculum and instruction. Except for one year of teaching in a private school, Ms. Cesario has spent her entire career with the Santa Clara district, she said.
"It's very exciting to me that (the Las Lomitas district) is small, (which) will allow me to be in classrooms, at school sites, at events," she said, adding that her connection with the schools "will be more than just a drive-by."
School board President Maria Mascaro Doktorczyk said in an interview that she and the other board members believe Ms. Cesario will be a "terrific fit for us" as the district embarks on implementing its new strategic plan. That plan, she said, addresses the "what" of student learning, including a curriculum with "a focus on 21st century skills."
During her tenure as superintendent, Ms. Cesario will also help implement the second phase of the strategic plan, now being developed to address the "how" of the district's educational goals outlined in the first phase.
"She really seemed to understand where we were trying to go with our plan, and was thrilled with the focus" on the plan's learning goals, Ms. Doktorczyk said.
Ms. Cesario said implementing the plan "will be one of my major functions — to make sure the plan comes alive, that it's not just something on paper."
The district's strategic plan, she said, "is about learning in the classroom," whereas in some districts, it's more about budgets and facilities. "Those things are important, but the main thing is about kids."
Seventeen people applied for the position, and the board interviewed five finalists, Ms. Doktorczyk said.
Ms. Cesario's annual salary will be $185,000. Mr. Hartwig is making $198,000 per year.
A resident of Redwood City, Ms. Cesario earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master's degree in educational administration from Santa Clara University. She has served as an adjunct professor in the master teacher leadership program at San Jose State University.
The district oversees Las Lomitas School (K-3) in Atherton, and La Entrada School (4-8) in Menlo Park.