Upland, Ca – Dr. Nancy Kelly, who led the Upland Unified School District (UUSD) to financial sustainability while pioneering a “whole child” philosophy to meet the academic, social, emotional and physical needs of every student, announced her retirement as superintendent, effective June 30, 2020.
Under Dr. Kelly’s leadership, UUSD showed significant improvement in academic metrics and earned national recognition for student wellness. She joined UUSD in 2013, at a time when the district was facing significant financial challenges. Within one year, the district had achieved positive certification from the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools for its ability to meet its financial obligations – a remarkable turnaround that required strong collaboration from the school board, faculty and staff.
Today, UUSD is seen as a leader in aligning students’ academic performance with their social, emotional and physical needs.
“Our commitment to every single student every single day is embedded in everything we do – from the college-going culture we’ve created to the wellness and support systems we have in place,” Dr. Kelly said, reflecting on her six-plus years as superintendent. “My greatest joy comes in knowing that every student who graduates from our district is better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
Linda Angona, who has been on the Upland Unified School District Board of Trustees since 2001 and currently serves as Vice President, credited Dr. Kelly with raising expectations for student performance and academic achievement. Among the district’s notable achievements during the past six years is a sharp increase in the percentage of high school seniors completing the A-G requirements – a rigorous sequence of courses making them eligible to apply to the California State University and University of California systems – from 32% in 2013 to 57% last year.
“What Dr. Kelly has been able to accomplish with her team is truly remarkable, and we’ve been fortunate to have her as our superintendent. She arrived during a difficult period for our district, and quickly proved to be the right person at the right time,” Angona said.
Wes Fifield, who has served on the Board of Trustees since 2005, said the changes and improvements Dr. Kelly implemented will resonate for years to come.
“Nancy has been a transformative leader for our district and one of the best leaders I’ve worked with – in a school setting or otherwise. She has given her all, day in and day out, and it reflects the quality of our schools and the lifetime of opportunities our students and graduates have in front of them,” Fifield said.
In addition to the higher A-G completion rates, significant accomplishments at UUSD during Dr. Kelly’s tenure include:
- The launching in 2015 of the Foothill Knolls STEM Academy of Innovation – a K-8 school focusing on science, technology, engineering and math – and just last month, the opening of a state-of-the-art STEM lab at the school.
- Implementation of expanded physical education and enhanced nutrition district-wide. In addition. Upland Unified designed, implemented and secured funding for comprehensive mental health services in partnership with the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health, resulting in the creation of the UUSD Counseling Center.
- Upland High School opened a 21st century classroom for the HOPE (Hope Occupations Preparation Education) Academy, featuring medical equipment, doctors’ office settings and hospital beds to provide future medical students with hands-on learning opportunities. More than 400 students participate in the program. Through the support of philanthropist Randall Lewis, the District also became a model school for the national HealthCorps program.
- Upland High’s participation in state championships every year since 2014.
Before arriving in Upland, Dr. Kelly had been assistant superintendent of human resources for the Redondo Beach Unified School District. Her 37 years in the educational profession has included time spent as an instructional aide, counselor, high school assistant principal and high school principal. While in Redondo Beach, she was named 2013 Association of California School Administrators Region XIV and State Human Resources Administrator of the Year.
“I so appreciate the opportunity to work with our incredible team of teachers, support staff and administrators,” Dr. Kelly said. “The success we’ve had as a district these past six and a half years are the result of their constant dedication to our students and the community we serve.”