Kent Cromwell was a natural fit as principal of Oak View High School in Oak Park once former principal Stew McGugan was appointed to the new post of director of student support and school safety.
When school opened on Tuesday, Oak View’s 30 students were introduced to a new school focus: environmentalism and nature.
Cromwell had big shoes to fill when McGugan left for his new job, but his experience as a teacher and principal in Northern California made him an easy choice for Superintendent Tony Knight.
“Kent will be a fantastic principal,” Knight said. “He has extensive experience working in alternative education and that is what he loves to do. He has worked in practically all aspects of education and recognizes that his heart is here.”
Kent, who accepted the principal’s post in May, said he has been working on the new environmental program with Knight and teachers over the summer through emails and text messages. He has been at work in person since July 23.
Although Kent was born and raised in Southern California, he worked in Sonoma County since 1999 after graduating from Sonoma State University. He taught at a continuation school from 1999 to 2006, at which time he was promoted to high school administrator, followed by a stint as a middle school and elementary school principal. Over the past five years, he served as a high school principal.
As for the new focus on nature at Oak View High, Cromwell said it’s right up his alley.
“Up north we were very environmentally geared,” he said, adding that his school was active in a wildland restoration project and that he launched a green club for students.
In addition, the district he worked in installed catch basins. The water collected was then used to irrigate the school garden. The pump, he said, was operated through solar power. Having been raised in Woodland Hills, Kent said, he is happy to be home.
“All of my friends and family are down here,” he said, although his two daughters still live up north. “I always had intentions of moving back to Southern California. The time was right to make the move. Oak Park was one of the districts that I really liked. I was just thrilled that I was able to land a position here. It’s a match made in heaven.”
Cromwell lives in Sherman Oaks.