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GUSD Board of Education appoints seven new administrators to the leadership team
GUSD Communications

At the April 18, 2024 regular meeting, the Board of Trustees appointed seven administrators to the GUSD leadership team.  "I'm thrilled to welcome such dynamic leaders to the Gilroy Unified School District team.  These seven individuals represent a diverse background of expertise and experience," shared Superintendent Anisha Munshi.  Six of the seven new administrators begin their role on July 1, 2024.  

Michelle Cat, Program Administrator of Early Literacy and English Language Development

Michelle CatMichelle Cat is the newly appointed Program Administrator of Early Literacy and English Language Development for the Gilroy Unified School District. Michelle’s passion for learning and literacy stems from her immigrant parents’ belief in the transformative power of education. With the guidance of her family and teachers, Michelle discovered her vocational calling early on. As a first-generation Vietnamese-American, she became the first in her family to graduate from a major university, earning her Bachelor of Arts in English (with an emphasis in Critical Theory) from the University of California, Davis in 2012, followed by her Single Subject Teaching Credential (English) in 2013 and her Master of Arts in Education in 2014.

Over the past decade, Michelle has assumed various roles at Christopher High School that have equipped her with a comprehensive understanding of literacy and English language development. She taught (and acted as the cohort leader for) a wide array of literacy and English development courses spanning from English Language Arts (EL Pathway, College Prep, and Honors) and Academic Language Development (ALD). Moreover, she was appointed as the site’s Instructional Specialist, designing and delivering EL-focused professional development sessions for her colleagues. Throughout her tenure, Michelle strongly promoted inclusivity, empathy, rigor, and engagement in the classroom.

Michelle’s instructional practices have been recognized by her peers and students. In 2019, she was honored as Teacher of the Year by Christopher High School’s student body. Additionally, she was selected as the Commencement Keynote Speaker by the graduating class in 2018 and 2021, reflecting the strong connections she built with students over the years. Michelle was also the recipient of the Dorothy Wright Outstanding Teaching Award from San Jose State University, an accolade awarded to educators who effectively prepared students for college writing courses.

During the 2023-2024 school year, Michelle serves as the Instructional Coach (Secondary) for GUSD’s EL Program. In this capacity, she partners with district stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of the program. She also offers guidance to all secondary sites in the planning and execution of professional development training.

Michelle is a champion of students, especially Multilingual Learners, and a staunch supporter of the educators who teach them. She looks forward to further contributing to the Gilroy community as the Program Administrator of Early Literacy and ELD. 

In her spare time, Michelle enjoys sharing a warm meal with family and friends, exploring new destinations, and engaging in indoor and outdoor exercise as much as possible.

Keli DaSilva, Food Service Supervisor

Keli DaSilvaKeli began working for Gilroy Unified School District in 2006 as both a Yard Duty and with the After School Program at Las Animas. A short time after, she became part of the Child Nutrition Department as a Food Service Assistant at Gilroy High School. Keli then began working through the ranks of the Department, she was promoted to Satelite Kitchen Operator I at GECA and held that position for 10 years. Next, Keli held the position as Satellite Kitchen Operator II at Mt. Madonna Continuation High School for 4 years. Keli was then promoted to Satellite Kitchen Operator III at Christopher High School and has held that position since 2022. 

Keli’s leadership and drive rapidly boosted Christopher High School’s quality and meals served. Christopher High School now serves over 2000 meals per day and is the model kitchen for the District. Keli has always been known for being passionate about her work, serving the highest quality and nutritious meals to her students, and creating a family atmosphere with her staff. Keli goes above and beyond to keep her students well fed and happy. She treats all students as if they are her own. While Keli worked at Mt. Madonna, she was the recipient of the 2016 Santa Clara County Classified Employee of the Year Award.

Outside of the Child Nutrition Department, Keli has a son and daughter, who both serve in the US Navy. She also has two stepsons who work in the High-Tech industry on both the East and West Coasts. In her spare time, she loves to garden, specifically taking care of plants, fruit trees and landscaping.

Keli has worked in many positions within the Child Nutrition Department, which gives her a unique perspective and ability to improve quality and quantity of meals served. Students are then able to learn at their highest level when they receive nutritionally balanced meals.  Keli begins in her new role on May 1, 2024.

Stacey Helguera, Assistant Principal, Gilroy High School

Stacy HelgueraStacy Helguera holds a BA in liberal studies/teacher education from Dominican University of California, MS in Mathematics Education from Walden University, and studied at the University of San Francisco where she earned an Administrative Credential.

 She began her career teaching middle school mathematics and as an instructional coach in San Jose Unified School District.  She has served as an Assistant Principal for the last 10 years at San Jose High School, Live Oak High School, and Prospect High School with Campbell Union High School District.

She is a member of ASCA and the Dominican University of California Women’s Leadership and Philanthropy Council.  In her free time, she enjoys traveling, shopping and attending Giants and 49er games.

Michael Pilacik, Program Administrator of Work-Based Learning and CTE

Michael PilacikMichael Pilacik is excited to take the next step in being the new program administrator of Work-based Learning and CTE (Career and Technical Education). With one whole year of working in this district as an English teacher at Gilroy High School, he is eager to offer more for our work-based learning and CTE programs. Within the one year, he took the opportunity to mentor brand new teachers, assist the administration with IEP and 504 meetings, participate in the School Site Council and video record the football games. 

Michael has a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theater directing from the University of Rhode Island and a Masters of Arts Teaching in English and Special Education from Montclair State University. He received his EL authorization from the University of California, Berkeley and his administrative services credential from the San Mateo County Office of Education. He still has his Single Subject Credential in English. 

Majority of Michael’s background with CTE stems from the theater world. A good chunk of theater requires the construction of several aspects to make a show. He was able to learn how to build sets with construction and painting, the use and construction of lights, costumes, props and even demolishing/striking the set. These skills were vital for the rest of his life that he even brought them with him in assisting in the reconstruction of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He was able to intern, work and even participate in class and workshops with such theater companies as the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Shakespeare Santa Cruz (or now known as Santa Cruz Shakespeare), and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. 

For the past eight years before coming to Gilroy, Michael taught English and Drama at South San Francisco High School. He was also responsible for putting together theatrical productions as a producer, director, construction manager and any other title seemed fit. He worked during summer school as both a teacher and administrator for three different programs: Big Lift Enrichment, STEAM and Elevate Math and CSI (Computer Science Initiative).

Samantha Rivas, Assistant Principal, Christopher High School

Samantha RivasSamantha Rivas, having over two decades of dedicated service, brings a wealth of experience in teaching and counseling to the Gilroy Unified School District. Holding a B.A. in Social Science, an M.A. in Educational Counseling with PPSC Credential, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and an Administrative Credential, Samantha is unyielding in her commitment to fostering student well-being and academic success.

As an Assistant Principal at Rancho San Justo Middle School in Hollister, CA, Samantha played a pivotal role in cultivating a positive school climate. She coordinated the Tier II Team, established and oversaw the Bronco Wellness Center, and coordinated with community-based agencies to provide support services for students and families. Samantha's ability to form strong relationships with students contributes to her adept handling of disciplinary matters and resolution of student conflicts.

Previously, Samantha served as an MTSS Intervention Counselor at Hollister High School, supporting at-promise students within the Baler Wellness Center. She is passionate about supporting “the whole child” and serving her school community as a compassionate leader. 

She's a proud mother of two daughters, ages 21 and 17, one graduating from UC Davis and the other heading to UC Santa Cruz next school year. In her free time, Samantha finds joy in traveling, exploring new places, enjoying warm nights in her backyard with her husband, and reading a good book.

Ivory Trams, Assistant Principal, Brownell Middle School

IIvory Tramsvory Trams is ecstatic to be joining the Bruin family as the newly appointed Assistant Principal at Brownell Middle School. She is a lifelong resident and graduate of Gilroy schools.

Ivory received her M.A. in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University, and her undergraduate in Psychology at California State University of Monterey Bay. She holds a Multiple Subject Credential and an Administrative Services Credential. For the last 15 years, she has worked in both private and public elementary schools; both in primary and intermediate grades through various leadership capacities such as discipline committees, leadership committees, team leads, mentor for new teachers, curriculum development, coaching, and as a GTA union representative.

She is passionate about empowering the next generation of leaders through innovative thinking and reflective practices. She believes in creating a safe and welcoming environment that is culturally responsive and diverse. A place that values and promotes inclusion for all students, with strong ties to the community.

In her spare time, she loves to build with Legos, read novels, go on long cross-country road trips, garden, try new recipes and spend time with her family. 

Myrna Zendejas, Program Administrator of Mental Health and Wellness

Myrna Zendejas

Myrna has over 20 years of experience in the education system, serving in wide-versed capacities.  Before her appointment, Myrna served as a District Social Worker with Santa Clara Unified School District.  She has been instrumental in building a social work intern team in partnership with neighboring universities. She is passionate about working with educators, families, and students to remove barriers to learning. She is committed to ensuring all students achieve their educational and social-emotional goals.  

She enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and pets. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and reading.