Southwest has new principal
Matt Phillips will be the new principal at Southwest High School starting July 1 after a Central Union High School District Board of Trustees’ unanimous vote recently.
Phillips will leave the superintendent position at Meadows Union Phillips Elementary School District, a rural one-site school district located about six miles east of El Centro, to join the Eagles.
“Although it’s hard to leave the wonderful people of Meadows Union, it’s very exciting to be selected to lead Southwest High School,” Phillips said. “It’s a prestigious school that deserves its reputation for academic excellence and superb specialized programs.”
Phillips will take the position after current Principal Bernardo Valenzuela decided to step down, citing the inability to fully commit to his position due to long daily commutes.
Valenzuela is still living in La Quinta and made the commute daily.
“I was putting seven hours (commuting) a week and I was feeling it at home,” Valenzuela said. “I’ve always believed in family first.”
Valenzuela said he leaves with the highest regard for the staff at Southwest.
“I loved being here. It’s an awesome school, it’s an awesome position,” he said.
The search for a new principal started in March according to a press release from the school district.
“He comes to us with a proven record of excellent leadership ability, engaging interpersonal skills and a philosophy of team-building and shared decision-making,” stated the press release on Phillips.
Phillips has previously been the principal at Wilson Junior High School and worked with the CUHSD closely.
“I have always been impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the staff,” Phillips said. “The high standards for academic excellence have been apparent to me for many years.”
He and his wife regarded Southwest so well, they sent their son to study there.
“On a personal note, my wife and I chose Southwest for my son Jonathan so that he could join the renowned orchestra program,” Phillips said. “We saw our son thrive and grow at Southwest and we are grateful for the fine high school education he received.”
Jonathan is now attending the University of California in Riverside.
“I am honored for the opportunity and I look forward to the new chapter in my career,” Phillips said.