CUSD profiles: new Oakmont principal Jessica Rodriguez

Jessica Rodriguez, Oakmont Outdoor School’s new principal. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

By Andrew Alonzo |

Like most Claremont Unified School District employees, Jessica Rodriguez has been busy these past few weeks getting ready for the upcoming school year. But 2023-24 is unlike any of her previous 11 years at CUSD, as she’s gearing up for her new assignment as principal of Oakmont Outdoor School.

Rodriguez, 45, who served in an interim status since March, succeeds Jennifer Adams, who had led the school since 2015.

“I finished the year with the staff and the school and the families here, but starting the school year in this role, I’m very, very excited to jump right in,” Rodriguez said. “I look forward to welcoming the families back and welcoming our new families.”

Asked what parents and Owls can expect from her, the new principal said, “You can expect me to put our kids first. You can expect me to do what’s best in the sense of building our kids’ educational pathway, their character development, their sense of belonging and their importance. I will lead with integrity and enthusiasm.”

Although born in Michigan, her family moved to Chino when she was 3 for her father’s work. She went through Chino Valley Unified School District schools, graduating from Don Lugo High School in 1996. She earned a softball scholarship to attend the University of California, Riverside, but her major remained undeclared for her first two years before her destiny was made clear.

“I was working in the college daycare program — still working with kids — and I knew that was what I had to do,” she said. “I knew that what I was meant to do was be with kids. I knew it was my path.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with a minor in sociology in 2000, then in 2002,  a master’s in education from Claremont Graduate University.

Jessica Rodriguez, Oakmont Outdoor School’s new principal. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

“Initially my plan was to kind of move up through the grade levels,” Rodriguez said. “I had always wanted to be a math teacher and then just move up to middle school and to high school. But I don’t know, I fell in love with the elementary kids.”

She taught in Fontana in 2001 but moved to Hesperia Unified School District a year later. While at Mesquite Trails Elementary School in Oak Hills, Rodriguez crossed paths with Adams, who was the assistant principal there.

“And then my path led me down here in 2011,” she said. “It was actually here, at Oakmont. This is where I taught fourth through sixth grade.”

Rodriguez would cross paths again with Adams in 2015, when Adams was hired as principal of Oakmont.

“She set very high expectations for us as a staff, and the students,” Rodriguez said of her predecessor and mentor. “She’s very true to herself and it was very evident in everything that she did. So, very big shoes to fill.”

In 2017, Rodriguez became the school’s teacher on special assignment, providing services to students across the autism spectrum. From 2019 to 2023, she was a teacher on special assignment for educational technology at the CUSD offices. Then in March she returned to Oakmont as interim principal.

“I had both of my daughters go through elementary school here,” Rodriguez said. “The kids here, they’re hardworking, they’re helpful, they’re passionate about the environment, which I love because we’re a biome school. Our parents are very involved and helpful and they want to do what they can to continue to have Oakmont be the special little gem that it is.”

The Lake Elsinore resident is married to an electrician turned stay-at-home dad named Joe. The couple have two daughters, Amanda, who graduated from Elsinore High School in June, and Morgan, who will soon be a sophomore at Claremont High.

Outside of Oakmont, Rodriguez enjoys being outdoors, whether it be hiking or competing in an Ironman race.

Rodriguez is looking forward to inspiring and encouraging students in her new position at Oakmont.

“Everybody deserves to have people see the best in them, believe the best in them, and open doors for them that they may not have otherwise realized were available for them or to them,” she said.


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