After decades of service to the Castaic Union School District and to education, Live Oak Elementary School Principal Cynthia Seamands plans to retire at the end of this school year.
During her career, the elementary school educator spent several years as a teacher and counselor before joining the Castaic district in 1990 as an at-risk counselor at several schools, including Live Oak Elementary.
“Live Oak is very special to me because I started as a counselor in this district and I worked at the office right down the hall,” Seamands said. “I’ve always wanted to help kids solve their issues and I still do that on a daily basis.”
Throughout her career, Seamands worked as a teacher for 17 years, as a counselor of 10 and a half years, as an administrator for 15 years and in dual roles for six years.
“I’ve enjoyed every role that I’ve had and, in every role that I’ve had, I’ve grown,” Seamands said. “I feel like I’ve been in the best place in my career being here since 1990. It’s always been child-focused, and that’s really important to me that we always, always think about the child first.”
Start in education
Seamands decided she wanted to be an educator when she was in the fourth grade.
“I had great teachers in elementary school,” Seamands said. “As a senior, I did work experience at the elementary schools near the high school and then I kept doing that and went on to the teaching program at CSUN and got my teaching credential in ’75, 43 years ago.”
Seamands then began teaching at Alice in Wonderland private school and at Woodland Hills Elementary School before becoming a teacher and counselor in the adolescent care unit at Palmdale High School.
“My job was to go to all of their schools and get as much of their units made up as I possibly could while I had them in the school program during the day,” Seamands said.
Seamands also acted as a substitute teacher for the William S. Hart Union High School District, the Sulphur Springs Union School District and the Saugus Union School District before officially joining Castaic in 1990.
As an at-risk counselor in the Castaic district, Seamands traveled to all of the district’s schools where she counseled students in kindergarten to eighth grade.
“I did that for three years, then I went back into teaching and taught first grade and then fifth grade and seventh grade,” Seamands said. “Then the district asked me to come back to the middle school office and be a counselor again.”
While working at Castaic Middle School, Seamands earned her administrative credential and then took on various roles as the school’s assistant principal and counselor.
“When I received my administrative credential I went into administration and stayed in administration, but prior to that I’d have 10.5 years as a counselor and 17 years as a teacher,” Seamands said.
Time at Live Oak
In 2007, Seamands returned to her first school in the Castaic district when she became principal of Live Oak Elementary.
“From my beginning days of Live Oak, I dreamed of being right here in this chair,” Seamands said of her role as principal. “I moved through teaching, I moved through counseling and all of that training is really come into play in my role as an administration.”
This background helped Seamands have an understanding of the various demands and expectations placed on teachers and staff at Live Oak.
“I have the utmost respect for teachers… I’ve always supported my teachers and I think teachers have the hardest job of anyone,” Seamands said. “I think everyone should treat them with adulation and be grateful that their child has that person who cares about their progress and their success.”
Throughout her 11 years at Live Oak, Seamands has helped implement new programs on campus, brought community volunteers to the school, witness the state standards change and guided new teachers on campus.
But through all of these changes, the school’s staff, teachers and parents have worked together to create a positive learning environment and collaborative school culture.
“Live Oak is special. People who come to school here and spend time here, they always say that there’s a feel about Live Oak, that it’s the school that has heart,” Seamands said. “I’m most proud of the way that our teachers and classified and parents work together and support one another, that is one of the biggest gifts that I think we provide our kids and families.”
Love of Castaic
As one of the smaller districts in the Santa Clarita Valley, Castaic teachers and administrators are able to work together and collaborate throughout the school year.
“Being a small district has its own unique pleasures because everyone is just a phone call away and we all see each other and plan together,” Seamands said. “I like that we all know each other and I like the intimacy of a small district, so that’s why I always preferred to stay in Castaic — since we only have four schools and I’ve worked at all of them except Northlake.”
As she prepares for retirement, Seamands says she is ready for the next chapter in her life, but will miss her daily personal interaction with Live Oak’s staff, teachers and students.
“I’ll miss the daily contact with my kids and with my colleagues, I’ll miss that a lot. That will be difficult not seeing the kids every day and not having seen my friends every day,” she said. “But I’m in a really good place right now about the next chapter of my life and I’m leaving this school in very good hands.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_