New principal selected for Eliot Elementary School

Pepper Butler has been selected as the new principal of Eliot Elementary School in Gilroy.

The Gilroy Unified School District has selected a new principal for Eliot Elementary School.

GUSD Superintendent Debbie Flores announced during Thursday’s School Board meeting that Pepper Butler – a Morgan Hill resident who has served as the principal of Ellis Elementary in Sunnyvale for the last three years – was selected from a pool of 44 candidates to take the helm in place of Kathleen Taylor.

Taylor, a former Glen View Elementary third-grade teacher of six years and GUSD peer assistance and review teacher for the last four years, served as Eliot’s interim principal this year after former principal James Dent departed in fall 2011 to run Gilroy’s recently opened charter school.

Flores, who said the process for selecting Eliot’s new principal involved two rounds of interviews and a visit to the finalist’s current school site, described Butler as a “top notch candidate.” 

Butler’s salary at GUSD in 2012-2013 will be $112,286 according to Human Resources Director Kim Filice. Butler will begin her employment July 1. 

“I’m very excited to be working with a new staff of teachers, students and their families to help continue the wonderful work at Eliot School,” said Butler.

As a Morgan Hill resident of three years who is already familiar with GUSD, moving her to career to the Garlic Capital is a natural transition for Butler, who was “drawn” to the Gilroy area. Working much closer to home will be “lovely,” she said.

Butler has three grown children, including a son who is working on his master’s degree at California State University, East Bay, a daughter who lives in Seattle and a youngest daughter who lives in Morgan Hill. Butler is originally from New Jersey.

Prior to working at Ellis Elementary in Sunnyvale, Butler served for five years as principal at New Republic Elementary School in Salinas, which Butler helped open in 2005. Both Ellis and New Republic were named California Distinguished Schools when Butler served as principal. This is an award given by the California Department of Education to schools that demonstrate significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap.

Butler said her main focus is always centered on student achievement.

“That’s my passion,” she said.

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