2016-07-21 / Schools

Jay Greenlinger comes home to Oak Park

Educator to serve as curriculum director
By Stephanie Bertholdo

HE’S BACK—Greenlinger left OPUSD in 2009 amid budget worries. HE’S BACK—Greenlinger left OPUSD in 2009 amid budget worries. Jay Greenlinger is returning to Oak Park Unified School District as the director of curriculum and instruction, a position cut from the budget eight years ago to save money when California slipped into a long recession.

With the improved economy and an expected shift in teaching methods to meet new state standards, Greenlinger said the timing couldn’t be more perfect for him to return to the district where he launched his career.

Greenlinger, 35, began teaching in the Oak Park district in 2003. He taught first, third and then fifth grade at Brookside Elementary School. By 2007, he was dean of students at Medea Creek Middle School in Oak Park.

In 2009, Greenlinger was on the move again, this time to Pleasant Valley School District in Camarillo, where he served as principal at La Mariposa Elementary School, a K-8 school. He was promoted to director of instructional technology and then director of curriculum, instruction and assessment in the Pleasant Valley district.

“I always found Oak Park to be a place that was learner focused,” he said. “I kept watching to see if there was a way to return to Oak Park.”

Greenlinger said his new OPUSD post will capitalize on the experience he gained over the years. He will work with teachers on professional development, and acquire new books and materials that jibe with the new standards, especially in math and language arts, he said.

Technology in teaching and learning will be a big focus for Greenlinger. Secondary schools in Oak Park are already equipped with enough Chromebook computers for each student to use, and iPads are also available, but elementary school students don’t yet have full access to these computers. Greenlinger said that will change under his watch.

Students need multiple kinds of devices to learn in today’s supercharged technological environment, he said, especially when it comes to gaining access to resources for projects, research papers and other work.

Greenlinger envisions the district having a very different model of learning in the coming years.

“Five years from now the learning space will completely change from the traditional classroom with teachers standing in front of rows of desks to a more flexible space,” he said. “We want collaborative and flexible workspaces so students can work independently or collaboratively.”

The new, more expansive classrooms, which Greenlinger calls makerspaces, will allow students to be more creative and hands-on during the school day.

“This physically can’t get done in a traditional classroom,” he said.

As an example, students working on robotics projects or tactile and visual arts need large workspaces. Banks of computers in these work areas will be needed so students can find content online that is relevant to the tasks at hand.

“We need to make these spaces as flexible as possible,” he said.

Greenlinger holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master of Arts in educational administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Cal State Northridge.

A Moorpark resident, Greenlinger is married with two sets of twins, ages 7 and 5.

“It very much feels like I’m coming home,” Greenlinger said about his new job in Oak Park.

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