A trio of educational leaders from Orange County has earned statewide honors through the Association of California School Administrators’ annual awards program.
Each year, ACSA announces winners in numerous job-alike categories and presents five special awards. Nominations are reviewed by the association’s awards committee, and recipients are approved by the board.
This year’s honorees include:
Felix Avila, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Ocean View School District
Avila was recognized as ACSA’s Personnel/Human Resources Administrator of the Year for 2019 based on his outstanding contributions in the areas of labor relations and negotiations.
As assistant superintendent of human resources, he serves as chief negotiator with the Ocean View Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association, Local Chapter 375.
“Mr. Avila demonstrates an ongoing commitment to negotiating in the best interest of students and staff,” Ocean View Superintendent Dr. Carol Hansen said. “He serves as a stabilizing presence, providing compassionate leadership and an ability to foster collaborative relationships in Ocean View.”
Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Conroy submitted the nomination package, which included letters of support from school board President Gina Clayton-Tarvin and Ocean View Teachers Association Bargaining Chair Bryan Leipper.
“I am humbled and honored by this recognition,” Avila said. “For me, the negotiations process is all about valuing your peers and building consistency and trusting relationships, both at the bargaining table and away from it. Ultimately, we are all working on behalf of our students.”
Dr. Grant Litfin, assistant superintendent of administrative services in the Tustin Unified School District
Litfin, who has worked in public education for 18 years – including the past seven in Tustin Unified — earned Career Technical Education Administrator of the Year honors.
“Grant is an outstanding educational leader who is making a tremendous difference in Tustin Unified schools by expanding STEM and CTE opportunities for all students,” Superintendent Dr. Gregory Franklin said. “I’m proud of Grant and his achievements and dedication to public education.”
Overseeing the district’s IT department along with Career Technical Education (CTE) and Enrollment/Transfers, Litfin has established business partnerships, including Tustin Toyota’s “Drive for Perfect Attendance Program” for high school seniors, and he has coordinated CTE Pathway courses and TUSD’s annual College Night and Career Fair.
Since he joined the district, TUSD has added a CTE program to all six middle schools, started a K-12 robotics league, expanded computer science programs and high school engineering programs, and implemented a high school career pathway program culminating in a capstone class and recognition at graduation.
“I’m honored to receive this recognition,” Litfin said, “and I’m even more excited that the amazing Career Technical Education programs our teachers have built are being recognized at the county and state levels.”
Jason Ross, assistant principal at Edison High School in the Huntington Beach Union High School District
Jason Ross, who has worked in the Huntington Beach district for nearly two decades, was named ACSA’s Secondary Co-Administrator of the Year.
Ross started his career teaching English at Huntington Beach High before moving to Valley Vista High School, where he supported students in the alternate program. As assistant principal, he has overseen activities, supervision, guidance and curriculum.
“I’m honored to be able serve such an incredible community,” he said, “and I’m humbled by this recognition. I have been fortunate to be a student, teacher and administrator in HBUHSD, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I am so proud of the work that our teachers and support staff do every day for kids and I’m grateful to them for the opportunity to lead.”
Ross received his bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Cal State Long Beach and his master’s degree in educational administration from National University.
Established in 1971, ACSA is considered the largest umbrella organization in the U.S. for school leaders, serving more than 17,000 California educators. The organization annually spotlights administrators for their achievements and dedication to public education and has a seperate program that honors students for overcoming odds and achieving success.
This year’s Administrators of the Year will be formally recognized in November at the association’s Leadership Summit. A complete list of winners can be found on ACSA’s website.