Principal's Message

Picture of Mr. Plascencia

Mr. Rafael Plascencia, Sycamore Magnet Academy Principal

Rafael Plascencia is the Principal of Sycamore Magnet Academy

Rafael Plascencia is in his first year as principal of Sycamore Magnet Academy in the Tustin Unified School District. He is also overseeing the new Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program for transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade students.

In the Dual Language Immersion Program, English-speaking and Spanish-speaking students will learn to read, write, and communicate effectively in Spanish and English. Students will develop bilingual skills and cross-cultural competencies needed to succeed in a multicultural society and global economy.

Mr. Plascencia has worked in education for 26 years, and has worked in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District where he served as principal of Rio Vista and Topaz elementary schools, assistant principal at Rio Vista and supervisor of Child Welfare and Attendance.

Under his leadership, Rio Vista was named a 2016 Gold Ribbon School (formerly titled California Distinguished School) by the California Department of Education. The school also received a 2016 California School Board Association’s Golden Bell Award for English Language Acquisition. In 2014, Mr. Plascencia was named Orange County Elementary Principal of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), Region 17. While at Topaz, the school received the California Distinguished School Award in 2010 and the Title I Academic Achievement Award in 2010 and 2011.

Mr. Plascenia has a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies from California State University, Fullerton; and two master’s degrees in education – school counseling and educational administration from Azusa Pacific University

Additionally, Mr. Plascencia has been a speaker for ACSA and the Orange County Department of Education where he presented on closing the achievement gaps for English learners and students with disabilities.

"I feel extremely humbled and privileged at the opportunity to be joining Tustin Unified and excited to be opening up Sycamore Magnet Academy,” Mr. Plascencia said. “I am really looking forward to the wonderful journey that awaits us.”

Assistant Principal, Yaneli Rivera

I am honored to serve as Assistant Principal at Sycamore Magnet Academy. I am committed to fostering an environment where each child feels valued, respected and loved. Our dedicated teachers, supportive parents, and innovative students all make Sycamore Magnet Academy thrive. As a “pack-minded” community, we inspire and nurture students to be tomorrow’s global leaders. 

The 2020-2021 school year marks my 11th year in education and seventh year working for TUSD. I’ve taught first/second and fifth grade and have formally mentored new and aspiring teachers. I’ve also taught English as a Second Language (ESL) classes through Tustin Adult School, and created and taught a Parent Literacy program for Spanish speakers. I have a bachelor’s degree in Communications and master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Educational Technology. I’m excited to build relationships with our students and their parents to give our student body the best opportunities to excel.

I am excited and honored to be part of the Sycamore family and serve as an Assistant Principal along with my colleagues Mr. Plascencia and Mrs. Rivera. We will strive daily to keep the students safe, create a loving environment, and provide an outstanding education right along side the amazing teachers and school staff. Coupled with our parents and school organizations we will nurture tomorrow's global leaders.

Starting as a special education paraprofessional and working with students one on one was the best way to begin my educational career. After receiving my bilingual teaching credential I began teaching elementary school at Lambert Elementary in Tustin Unified where I spent six years. During that time I pursued and received a Master's degree in Educational Administration. I was fortunate to stay in Tustin Unified to continue my journey in education as an administrator at Pioneer Middle School. While I was at Pioneer I was able to grow my passion for educational technology which paved the way for me to serve as the Coordinator of Educational Technology for seven years in Tustin Unified. Feeling the call to return to a school site I have been given a special opportunity to now be a wolf at Sycamore Magnet Academy where together we can demonstrate the ideals of Respect, Empathy, and Perseverance.