Benicia Unified School District Superintendent Charles Young announced Wednesday that Benicia High School vice principal Brianna Kleinschmidt would be promoted to the school’s principal position.
Kleinschmidt takes the reins of Mark Corti who had filled in as interim principal following the resignation of Damon Wright in June 2015, after Wright accepted a position as principal of American Canyon High School.
Kleinschmidt graduated from Benicia High in 1997 and received her bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her master’s degree in the same field at San Francisco State University. Additionally, she picked up both her teaching credential and administrative credential at Brandman University.
She also spent a few years as an event planner with her own catering business in Sacramento but saw a need to pursue her passion.
“I found I wanted to get back into the area that I studied and get into something that would make more of a difference,” she said.
Kleinschmidt returned to her high school alma mater in 2011 to become a teacher in the school’s English department. For the next three years, she taught freshmen, juniors and seniors in a variety of courses, including an expository reading and writing class which prepared high school students for college-level language arts work. In addition, she was the adviser of the yearbook class in 2013 and 2014. Both editions of the Pride yearbook, including the 2014 book which was the first “augmented reality” yearbook in Northern California, picked up awards.
Kleinschmidt was promoted to vice principal in 2014, a position she held for the next two years. In that time, she served as the Advanced Placement coordinator, the AVID program site coordinator, an administrator for the EcH2O Academy and was active in organizing the Every 15 Minutes program.
When a principal position opened up, Kleinschmidt expressed interest.
“I saw a real need for not just a principal but a principal that would provide some stability of leadership and be here for a long time because I know there’s been some turnover at the principal position,” she said. “I really wanted to continue to help Benicia High School grow and move in the direction that we’re headed in now and do so in a way that we would continue for many years to come.”
Kleinschmidt says she will continue to work on the school’s current goals, including working with the Schedule Advisory Committee toward making a recommendation for a new bell schedule, changing graduation requirements to increase the number of graduates eligible for UC enrollment and overseeing the stadium renovation project. She also wants to help improve faculty leadership and building relationships with local businesses and alumni.
“I would love to grow those connections with other businesses in Benicia so we can bring in opportunities for our students whether that’s internships bringing in guest speakers and bringing in opportunities for different classes that maybe we haven’t had in the past to really set our students up for success,” she said.
Kleinschmidt believes education will provide students with opportunities that otherwise would not be available to them.
“I think we’re at a point of shifting away from asking students what they want to be when they grow up and instead helping them focus on what problems they want to solve because a lot of times we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet, and so we need to provide them with a huge range of skills,” she said. “Education is growing and evolving in order to better equip our students for their path to success.”
Kleinschmidt’s role as principal begins today. Vice principals Sean Thompson and Kathrine Cole and dean of students Stacy Starkweather will be assisting with the transition. Corti will be talking to Young to determine his role in the transition, and Kleinschmidt will also be performing her previous vice principal duties until a permanent replacement is hired.
“I’m excited for the opportunity, and I look forward to working with staff and the community to make Benicia High School the best that it can be,” she said. “It’s a great school already, and we just want to continue on that path.”