News & Announcements

a sliver of film reel curls around a camera sprocket

The Tustin Unified School District is presenting an Elementary and Middle School Student Film Festival on Tuesday, May 14 in the Beckman High School Performing Arts Center, 3588 Bryan Ave., Irvine.  The festival will feature videos from students in TK (transitional kindergarten) through eighth grades.  Elementary videos will be presented from 5 to 7  p.m. and middle school videos will be shown from 7:15 to 9 p.m. 

“Teachers have been working to create opportunities for students to build an understanding of how writing and digital media can go hand in hand to promote creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking through digital storytelling,” said festival coordinator Ashly McNamara, a teacher on special assignment in English/language arts.  “We received more than 400 submissions from elementary and middle school students across the District and it is exciting to see their spirit of risk-taking in creating films using digital storytelling techniques.”

Nearly 50 students’ films will be shown and honored in various categories, including Best Acting, Most Creative, Best Editing, Most Inspirational Film, Best Animation, Best Script and others.

TUSD staff, students, parents, families and community members are invited to attend the event.  Admission is free.

For more information, call (714) 730-7301, ext. 51387

Read more about TUSD Presents Elementary and Middle School Student Film Festival

Honour Del Crognale holding balloons surrounded by students in the school library




Honour Del Crognale

Library Media Technician, Heritage Elementary School

Honour Del Crognale, library media technician at Heritage Elementary School, has been selected as the 2019 Classified Employee of the Year by the Tustin Unified School District.  Honour has gone "above and beyond" for the students and staff at Heritage School, especially her work in the school library, hosting book fairs, seeking resources and materials to improve the library collection, supporting Assistance League of Tustin programs and helping students from the Village of Hope at the Orange County Rescue Mission.

TUSD Superintendent Dr. Gregory Franklin made the announcement Thursday, April 18, at Heritage School.  He was joined by TUSD Board of Education Member Jonathan Abelove, Heritage Principal Beth Rabel Blackman, District Office administrators and representatives from the Tustin Public Schools Foundation.

The 22nd annual awards program recognizes classified or support services employees whose contributions to TUSD have proven to be outstanding.  The award is given to a classified employee who provides valuable services to schools and staff, contributes to a positive instructional environment, and goes above and beyond their job requirements.   

Honour and all school/work site nominees will be honored at the "Classified Celebration at the Courtyard," a special recognition ceremony to be held at 5 p.m. Monday, May 20, in the courtyard at the District Office, 300 South C Street, Tustin.  A reception will begin at 4:30 p.m.  Family, friends, and co-workers are invited.  Special invitations will be given to each school or work site nominee. 

Congratulations to Honour and all the nominees!

Read more about Tustin Unified School District's 2019 Classified Employee of the Year

Man in a suit making an announcement into a megaphone

 The Tustin Unified School District has announced several administrative appointments, which will begin July 1, for the 2019-20 school year.

“These successful school administrators bring a wealth of knowledge and leadership expertise, and are uniquely prepared to make an impact at their respective new sites,” TUSD Superintendent Dr. Gregory Franklin said. “I look forward to their continued success as they support student development and academic achievement.”

Cindy Agopian, principal of Orchard Hills School, has been promoted to Director, Educational Services, at the District Administration Center. Agopian has served as Orchard Hills K-8 principal for the past three years. She has worked in education for 38 years – 26 years in Tustin Unified. 

Agopian joined TUSD as principal of Jeane Thorman Elementary School. She worked at the District Office as director of special education and then became principal of Tustin Memorial Academy, where she remained for 12 years. She then served as principal of Hicks Canyon Elementary School for six years and, most recently, as principal at Orchard Hills School for the past three years. Last year, Agopian led the transition of Orchard Hills School from a fifth- through eighth-grade school to becoming the first K-8 school in the District.

Under Agopian’s leadership, Orchard Hills was selected as a California Distinguished School, Hicks Canyon was named a California Distinguished School and California Gold Ribbon School, and Tustin Memorial Academy was selected as a California Distinguished School and National Blue Ribbon School. Tustin Memorial also won a Golden Bell Award for the Helping Enrich Resources of Every Student (HEROES) program from the California Schools Boards Association.

Among her honors, Agopian has received the Orange County Elementary Principal of the Year Award from the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), Region 17, and Principal of Excellence Award from the Irvine Company. This year, Agopian represented the Tustin School Management Association as an honoree for Middle School Principal of the Year in the ACSA awards program.

Agopian has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Pepperdine University.   

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of the teachers, students, staff, and parents at Orchard Hills School,” Agopian said. “It has been a pleasure and honor to work with such a dedicated and hardworking school community. Working together to open Orchard Hills as a K-8 school this year has been a highlight in my career.”

Dr. Jennifer Harrison, principal of Ladera Elementary School, has been appointed principal of the new Legacy Magnet Academy. The state-of-the-art middle and high school is under construction in Tustin Legacy and will open in summer 2020. 

Harrison has worked in public education for 20 years – the past four years as principal of Ladera School. Among her accomplishments at Ladera, Harrison led the successful opening of the Leopard Innovation Lab and launched the Digital Storytelling initiative.

Prior to TUSD, Harrison was a director of curriculum and instruction, overseeing math, science and technology in the Ontario-Montclair School District. She has also opened a magnet school for transitional kindergarten through eighth-grade students and has served as a site administrator at the middle and high school levels.

Harrison has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from California State University, Long Beach; a master’s degree in education administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills; and a doctorate in education (K-12 leadership) from the University of Southern California.

“I am proud of the Ladera team’s hard work over the past four years. We opened Leo’s Future-Ready Lab, presented at multiple STEAM and Tech conferences, implemented Digital Storytelling schoolwide and will host our second annual Film Festival this year,” Harrison said. “The growth of our students, staff, and school has been tremendous, and I look forward to watching Ladera’s continued success in the years to come.”

Harrison continued, “The development of Legacy Magnet Academy is an exciting opportunity to create unique learning experiences for students who wish to pursue their passion for technology, innovation, design, and entrepreneurship. I am truly honored and eager to begin the process of collaborating with teachers, students, parents, community members, business and higher education partners as we build what will be the premier 6-12 school in the region.”

Erick Fineberg, principal of A.G. Currie Middle School, has been named principal of Tustin Connect K-12 school.  Fineberg has worked in education for 22 years – the past 10 years in Tustin Unified.

Fineberg has served as principal of Currie School for five years. During that time, he was also principal of Jeane Thorman Elementary School for two years. Prior to that, he was principal of Benjamin Beswick Elementary School for five years.  Under his leadership, Currie and Thorman schools were named California Gold Ribbon Schools and Title I Academic Achievement Schools, and Beswick was named a California Distinguished School and Title I Academic Achievement School.

Among his honors, Fineberg was selected as 2011 Elementary School Principal of the Year and 2017 Middle School Principal of the Year by the Tustin School Management Association for the Orange County Administrators of the Year Awards Program, sponsored by the Association of California School Administrators, Region 17.

Fineberg also serves as principal of the Tustin Public Schools Foundation’s Summer Academy where he designed and built the program to offer enrichment courses in a variety of areas, including STEAM, coding, and robotics.

Fineberg has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Irvine, and a master’s degree in teaching curriculum from the University of California, Los Angeles.

 “I want to thank the Currie staff, teachers, parents and students for an incredible five years. It has been an honor and privilege to work closely with such a wonderful group of people at Currie,” Fineberg said. “We have accomplished so much and I am so proud to be a Cougar. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career and could not be more excited to join the amazing students, teachers, staff, and families at Tustin Connect to begin this new journey.”

Mindy Smith, principal of W.R. Nelson Elementary School, has been appointed principal of Orchard Hills School.  Smith has worked in education for 30 years – the past 12 in TUSD.  

Smith has served as principal of Nelson School for the past four years. Prior to that, she was a teacher on special assignment/instructional coach at Nelson and Jeane Thorman elementary schools. Smith also taught second and third grade at Arroyo Elementary School and kindergarten at Red Hill Elementary School. 

Smith has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from California State University, Fullerton.

“I am grateful to the staff, students and the families of Nelson School, and they have enriched my life more than they will ever know,” Smith said. “I look forward to this new opportunity at Orchard Hills, and I’m excited to meet the students, staff, and parents. I’m confident that we will accomplish great things together.”

TUSD Chief Personnel Officer Dr. Chuck Lewis will work with Nelson School to begin identifying the qualities and characteristics for their next principal.

Dr. Dustin O’Malley, principal of Tustin Connect K-12 school, has been named principal of Ladera Elementary School.  O’Malley has worked in education for 14 years – all in TUSD.   

O’Malley has been a teacher on special assignment/Digital Learning coach, teacher at Red Hill Elementary School and Columbus Tustin Middle School, and assistant principal of Alternative Education. Most recently, O’Malley has served as principal of Alternative Education. He opened Tustin Connect K-8 school in 2015-16 and, two years later, expanded the successful blended learning school to include an accredited college preparatory high school for grades 9-12.

O’Malley has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Irvine; a master’s degree in educational leadership from Concordia University; and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Southern California.

“Having the opportunity to launch and build Tustin Connect with the collaborative efforts of our dedicated staff and school community has been one of the greatest professional joys of my life,” O’Malley said. “I will miss the Tustin Connect students, families and staff. At the same time, I am thrilled to become a Ladera Leopard and I look forward to working with the staff and school community to build upon Ladera’s legacy of excellence.”

For more information, call the TUSD Communications Office at (714) 730-7339.

Read more about Tustin Unified Announces Administrative Appointments for 2019-20

Four kindergarten children at a table with assorted blocks

            Tustin Unified School District elementary schools are now conducting early registration for all new students, transitional kindergarten (TK) through fifth-grade, who plan to attend classes in the 2019-20 school year. For the first time, TUSD is offering full-day kindergarten at all elementary schools, beginning in the fall. 

            Parents are able to begin the registration process online through the TUSD AIR Portal at The AIR enrollment allows parents to quickly begin the process of enrolling their child for school. The benefit to online enrollment is that parents are able to complete forms online rather than by hand.  

            Parents registering their children also need to provide proof of residence, such as a rental contract, lease agreement, escrow papers or grant deed; gas, electric or water bill; photo ID (example: driver's license) of parent or guardian; proof of their child's birth date; and health immunization records to their home school. According to state law, the following immunizations are required for all new students: polio, diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DPT), measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), hepatitis B series and varicella (chicken pox).

            Children who will be five years old on or before Sept. 1 of this year (2019) are eligible to enter kindergarten for the upcoming school year. Children who will be five-years-old between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 of this year (2019) are eligible to enter transitional kindergarten.            

            Information on attendance areas for all Tustin Unified elementary schools is available from the District's Student Services Department at (714) 730-7301, ext. 51317. Individuals can also seek school locations by clicking on the School Locator button on the 'Schools' tab TUSD Web site at

            Parents are asked to call or visit their home school for more information. The school offices are open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Read more about TUSD Elementary Schools Conducting Early Registration
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