With mixed emotions, Glenn Lipman watched the members of Adolfo Camarillo High School’s Class of 2015 receive their diplomas Tuesday afternoon.
The principal said it’s always hard to see a class of students leave.
“I get teary-eyed at every graduation,” he said. “I hate to see them go.”
But this year’s ceremony was especially sentimental for the longtime educator, who, along with this year’s class, will be taking his final walk through the halls of the campus on Mission Oaks Boulevard as he begins a whole new chapter in his life: retirement.
“It will be bittersweet and emotional, that’s for sure,” said Lipman the morning of graduation day. “Being a principal is more than a job. It’s a passion. It’s a way of life.”
Principal for the past 10 years, Lipman has been a driving force in the effort to raise Camarillo High’s academic standing in the community.
The school’s academic success in the past decade—it was twice named a California Distinguished School, in 2009 and 2013, and earned the U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools Silver Award in 2014—has helped stem the tide of high-achieving students who opted to enroll in Conejo Valley Unified School District rather than at Camarillo High.
Lipman, 60, said that over 300 students from Oxnard Union High School District had left for schools in the Conejo Valley when he first came on as principal. Many of those students were top performers. In 2007, seven of the 14 valedictorians at Newbury Park High School were Camarillo residents.
“Our API was not very good,” said Lipman of the Camarillo school’s Academic Performance Index, a number that uses standardized test results to summarize a school’s academic standing. The school’s API in 2004 was 729, he said—far below what schools in the Conejo Valley were posting.
So with the backing of the Oxnard Union board of trustees and then-Superintendent Jody Dunlap, the principal began to develop more rigorous classes, moving the curriculum to a college prep model.
Despite the more demanding class work, Lipman said, the students succeeded.
“If you offer easy classes, many will go easy,” said Lipman, whose goal was to challenge the students to take more rigorous courses. To that end, students were allowed to take any Advanced Placement class they wanted—a change from the past when students had to meet certain requirements to enroll in the top-level classes.
“I always felt over the years the students were very passionate about being successful, and with the elimination of standard classes and going to all college prep courses, we believed the students would rise to the occasion.”
The move paid off, Lipman said, and between 2005 and 2012, the school’s API score went up 140 points to 869. What’s more, the number of students taking AP exams skyrocketed from 600 in 2010 to 1,500 this year.
“We’re all very competitive, and we all want to work at the best environment and the best school, and we all want to claim that our school is one of the best in the area and the nation,” Lipman said.
The principal credited his staff and its “passion for excellence” with helping make the school a top performer in the county.
Lipman, who began his 37- year career as a teacher at his alma mater, Royal High School in Simi Valley, earned his bachelor’s degree from Westmont College and his master’s in administration from Azusa Pacific University.
After a decade teaching in the Simi Valley Unified School District, Lipman was named dean of students at Channel Islands High School in 1988. Over the ensuing 17 years, he held administrative posts at campuses across Oxnard Union—including ACHS—before he became principal in 2005.
“We appreciate (Glenn’s) 27 years of service because they have all been as an administrator,” said Rocky Valles, assistant superintendent of human resources for Oxnard Union. “The position of administrator has changed and evolved over the years, and he was always very good and effective at what he did.”
Lipman and his staff have also taken part in the monumental shift in education to Common Core and the introduction of new technology in many classes.
Oxnard Union officials announced Wednesday night that Kim Stephenson will be Camarillo High’s new principal. She has been an associate principal at ACHS since 2013.
Lipman, who lives in Moorpark, said he plans to spend more time with his family. He and his wife of 37 years, Janet, have three children. They have two grandchildren and a third on the way.
As he prepares to leave the school he helped turn into an academic success story, Lipman said its students and staff will certainly do well in the years to come.
“(Camarillo High) is at the apex of success,” he said. “And there is more success to be had. I know it.”