Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien,WA 98166

Office Hours:

Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

New Principals & Leaders

We welcome our new principals and central office administrators to Highline! Here are our new leaders and leaders who are new to their roles for 2019-20.


Dr. Shajaira Lopez, Co-Principal - White Center Heights Elementary

Shajaira started her career in education at Inter-American Magnet School in Chicago Public Schools.  Most recently, Shajaira was the assistant principal at Totem Middle School in Federal Way Public Schools for the 2018-19 school year.  Shajaira has a masters in bilingual/bicultural education from Northeastern Illinois University (Chicago, IL), and a doctorate in educational leadership from National Louis University (Chicago, IL).  

Marcello Sgamberlluri, Co-Principal - White Center Heights Elementary

Marcello started his career in education teaching 1st grade in Washington, D.C. Most recently, Marcello was the assistant principal at Evergreen High School and filled in as acting principal. Marcello did his undergraduate work at the University of Washington, received a master's in early childhood education from George Mason University and a Master of Education in School Leadership from Harvard University.  

Ally Gaynor - Bow Lake Elementary

Ally began her career teaching high school sciences in Chicago Public Schools. She completed her principal fellowship at a K-12 school and a high school in Boston Public Schools. Ally served as assistant principal at Chinook Middle School for the last two school years. She holds a B.S. in history and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Education in School Leadership from Harvard University. 

John Erickson - Hilltop Elementary

John started in Highline in 2014 as assistant principal at Pacific Middle School. Most recently, he served as interim principal at Hilltop. He also served as dean of students, classroom teacher and coach in Auburn School District. John holds a B.A. in English with a minor in education from Whitman College and a M.Ed. from City University of Seattle. 

Central Office

Kathy Emerick - Director of PreK-Elementary Success

Kathy Emerick most recently served as director of teacher initiatives. Prior that that, she served as principal of Hilltop Elementary School and Beverly Park Elementary. Kathy is replacing Ann Arnold, who accepted a position in Everett Public Schools.

Deena Russo - Director of Professional Learning

The director of professional learning replaces the role of director of teacher initiatives, previously held by Kathy Emerick. In this role, Deena will oversee certificated staff induction and supports and will partner closely with Human Resources on the implementation of the para-educator certificate program and pathways to certification, such as our bilingual teaching fellows program. Deena served as principal of Graham Hill Elementary in Seattle Public Schools. She holds a master’s in educational leadership, a principal certification, and a P-3 executive leadership certificate all from the University of Washington.

Darren Spencer - Co-Director of Special Education

Darren started his career in education as a school psychologist in the Edmonds School District in 2007. Most recently, he was the assistant director of special education here at Highline.  Darren has a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University, an education specialist degree in school psychology, a master's degree in school counseling and a doctorate in educational leadership, all from Seattle University. 

Sara Baker - Director of Recruitment, Retention and Labor Relations

Sara started her career in education as a family therapist at Roosevelt High School  in Portland Public Schools. Most recently, Sara was the human resources partner supporting our north end elementary and middle school leaders. Sara studied psychology and women’s studies at Washington State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, and she earned her master's in family therapy from Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

Family Center

Re-enrollment and re-engagement work that has been done by the Connection Centers at Woodside and Salmon Creek is now part of Student Support & Family Engagement and will be housed in the Family Center at Central Office. This reflects a recommendation in the recent alternative education review to centralize re-engagement services, giving students better access to the full range of alternative programs and other supports such as interpretation and ELL assessment. Counselor Ann Marie Littleton has joined the Family Center to assist with this work, alongside Student Placement Manager Ebony Booker, under the supervision of Enrollment Manager Micaela White.

Lita O’Donnell - Director of Family & Community Partnerships

Lita has worked in Highline for over 15 years in the ELL department, the student placement office, and most recently as district ombudsman. In this role, she has led the Superintendent’s Family Action Committee, supported our family engagement specialists and co-led the work on Highline’s family engagement vision.

Isuzu Niizuma Arambula - District Ombudsman

Isuzu rejoins Highline after two years in Saltillo, Mexico where she was coordinator of conflict resolution and suicide prevention programs. Previously, she worked seven years in Highline as a bilingual paraeducator, family liaison, and district ombudsman. We are thrilled to welcome her back to the ombudsman role.