Dawn Vetica is both excited and scared to be taking on the assistant superintendent of secondary schools job at Lodi Unified School District. But her teaching heart is thrilled to take on the upcoming challenges in the world of education.
"We are going to be initiating common core standards, a new state testing system, and I want to be on the ground floor of that, as well as the new (career and technical education) classes," she said. "There's an exciting part of education coming up, and I'm just wanting to be part of it."
Vetica was first hired in 1989 as the director of elementary education for Lodi Unified. Since then, she has worked as a middle school principal, president of the LUSD Administrators Association and an overseer of beforeand afterschool programs at district sites.
She currently manages intervention and afterschool enrichment programs for the district, and also works with curriculum planning, Title 1 schools and interventions.
She grew up in Selma, and attended California State University, Fresno before transferring to CSU Bakersfield to complete her multiple-subject teaching credential and earn a degree in liberal studies for teachers.
Getting through college took a while. Vetica planned to be a teacher when she started, but she changed her major once to social work and again to psychology before returning to the teaching track. She also earned a special education teaching credential.
Vetica knew she had to teach when she was 8 years old. She was inspired by the teacher she had for second and third grade.
"She was just amazing. I knew I had to do that," she said.
Vetica has three daughters who all attended Lodi schools.
She said the waiting game for the new job was tense. It was posted online for six weeks before Vetica was called for a series of interview.
Thirty-six people applied for the job. There is no contract for the year-to-year position. The pay is determined by the district's manager salary schedule. The only administrators on independent contracts are the superintendent Cathy Nichols Washer and chief business officer Tim Hern, confirmed Mike McKilligan, director of personnel.
Vetica will begin the new position on July 1 with a salary of $136,201.
The board of trustees accepted a request from Odie Douglas to leave the job on March 6. His current salary is $136,701. The $500 difference between Vetica's salary and Douglas' is due to his doctoral degree — she has a master's degree.
As assistant superintendent, Vetica said she will be working on building seamless transitions from kindergarten through high school graduation, to help improve graduation rates.
"We need to keep kids connected to schools and make stronger bridges between grade levels," she said.