Cheryl James-Ward for San Diego County Board of Education District 5

Guest Column Guest Column, Press Releases / Media Advisories 2 Comments



Cheryl James-Ward, a candidate for County Office of Education, sent over the media release further down in this post. We were intrigued, as she is opposing labor-backed incumbent Rick Shea, who was appointed to the District 5 seat in 2015, then beat out former State Senator Mark Wyland in a close 2016 contest.

SD Rostra asked James-Ward to provide some additional details about her reasons for taking on Shea, as well as her party affiliation…

“I would oppose Rick Shea for three reasons,” responded James-Ward.

“The first is that I’m more current on education in the 21st century. It’s part of my research at SDSU, and I’m currently the Chief of Academic Innovation at a one-to-one tech Science, Technology, Engineering Arts, and Math (STEAM)  and Design Thinking high school.  Additionally the online SDSU MA program in Educational Leadership taught through a technology lens which I started five years ago is now ranked 11th in the nation by (2018). I think Rick was a lead teacher in the Juvenile Court Schools, and then over 12 years ago he was a special assistant to the superintendent at San Diego County Office of Education. A lot has happened in the education field in the last 12 years!

“Secondly, I’ve been an administrator and/or professor in educational leadership for nearly 20 years, and I believe in first and foremost being a voice and advocate for kids and families, then adults. I think Rick believes it’s the other way around, but you would have to ask him to confirm.

“Third, I believe we need to follow the letter of the law with the LCAP in terms of using supplemental funds the way they were intended to be used. I’m not sure if Rick always certifies district budgets for Local Control Funding Formulas that follow the letter of the law, again, you would have to ask him to confirm.

“Currently, I’m an undeclared voter.”

Rostra thanks James-Ward for her quick responses.

Cheryl James-Ward for San Diego County Board of Education District 5

Cheryl has been in education for over 25 years, serving as a junior high math teacher and dean of discipline in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a vice principal in Long Beach, and then principal in Pasadena before returning as a principal and director of academic initiatives in the Long Beach Unified School District. She was also principal of Capri Elementary School here in Encinitas before accepting a tenure track position at San Diego State University eleven years ago. At San Diego State, Cheryl started the Chinese and American Leadership Symposiums and the online MA in Educational Leadership Program, now ranked 11th in the nation. Her current research focuses on state of the art educational environments, Design Thinking and shared leadership. She has dozens of publications primarily in leadership coaching and the use of data to improve instruction.

Cheryl said last year that one of her high school seniors working on a design thinking project called Run Like a Girl 2020, encouraged her to run. Ana, now a student at George Washington University, told Dr. James-Ward that men consider running 3 times before doing so and women 7 times. Cheryl says she’s been thinking about running for over 10, and Ana’s encouragement was the impetus to get her in gear!

Cheryl has five priorities for her work as a San Diego County Office of Education board member 1) Safe schools, 2) Mental health and drug prevention support, 3) Early childhood education, 4) STEM and critical thinking skills for every student, and 5) Differentiated systems of support and accountability for our schools and districts.

Dr. James-Ward is the devoted mother of two children, 8th and 9th graders, and a wife of over twenty years. Before beginning her career in education she worked for the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab on the Magellan Space Project. In addition to her leadership with the Educational Leadership department of San Diego State University, Cheryl is presently the Chief of Academic Innovation for a small STEM high school rated one of the top most innovative schools in the nation by CNNMoney 2015. She has served in that position for over two years. She believes that she is the only district 5 candidate who understands the needs and complexities of the modern era of education and welcomes an educational debate with her opponent.

You can contact Cheryl James-Ward at:



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Comments 2

  1. They attend Pacific Beach Middle School and Mission Bay High School in San Diego Unified School District because of their Mandarin and Spanish Immersion programs. Both of my children speak all three languages and have been in trilingual programs since elementary school. Thanks for your question.

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