CONTACT:  Sarah Wahrenbrock                       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.450.8338, ext. 70229                                   20 JUN 2014





At a special meeting on June 19, 2014, the Board of Education approved the appointment of Ms. Elizabeth Cochran as the new Principal of Will Rogers Learning Community, Ms. Wendy Wax Gellis as the Interim Principal of Grant Elementary School, and Ms. Lila Daruty the half-time Assistant Principal of Grant Elementary School, while remaining half-time as the BTSA Coordinator. 


Below is information on Ms. Cochran, Ms. Gellis, and Ms. Daruty:


Ms. Elizabeth Cochran

Ms. Cochran has been the Assistant Principal at Will Rogers Learning Community and Grant Elementary School for the past year.  She also served as our district’s Literacy Coordinator for four years.  Prior to that, she was the Early Literacy Assessment Manager, Central Office Instructional Technology Coordinator, Area Instructional Technology Coordinator, and Department of Online Learning Content Editor for the Chicago Public Schools.  She has taught preschool, kindergarten, and first, second, and fourth grades in Los Angeles and Chicago.  As Assistant Principal, Ms. Cochran was involved in a variety of school site activities aimed at student achievement and development, including facilitating Student Success Team (SST) meetings and special services meetings.  She also developed and managed schedules for core and enrichment classes as well as state testing. 


Ms. Cochran is very familiar with WRLC, its staff, students, and families.  She collaborated with teachers to conduct STEM-focused learning walks and designed and delivered professional development in literacy and Common Core State Standards.  She counseled students using strategies from Cool Tools, Character Counts, and Responsive Classroom.  With a goal of community outreach and engagement, Ms. Cochran participated in PTA and ELAC meetings and events.  She led parent volunteer trainings that ensured effective volunteer teams.  Having Ms. Cochran move from Assistant Principal to Principal will be a natural fit for the Will Rogers community. 


Ms. Wendy Wax Gellis

Ms. Gellis has been serving as Assistant Principal at Malibu High School for the past five years.  She has also served as House Principal and Student Support Advisor at Santa Monica High School and Principal at McKinley Elementary School, where she led for seven years.  Prior to joining SMMUSD, Ms. Gellis served as Principal at Eastwood Elementary School in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District; Principal at Beulah Payne Elementary School, Assistant Principal at Bennet-Kew Elementary School, Dean of Students at La Tijera School, and ESAA Reading/Math Specialist and Coordinator, all in Inglewood Unified School district; Miller Unruh reading/Language Specialist at Lassalette Elementary School in the Hacienda-La Puente Unified School District; and Reading Recourse Specialist at the USC Reading Center. 


Ms. Gellis possesses extensive experience as a school site leader collaborating with staff and fellow administrators, leading and supporting students, and reaching out to parents and the community.  As assistant principal, Ms. Gellis served as administrator for special education, facilitated professional development for site staff, worked with families to improve student attendance, instituted awards assemblies to recognize students’ achievements, and worked closely with staff to ensure the needs of the school were being met. 


Ms. Lila Daruty

Ms. Daruty has been the Coordinator in charge of SMMUSD’s BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) Induction Program and National Board Teachers for the past year.  She was a Cotsen Teaching Mentor at McKinley Elementary School and taught at both McKinley Elementary School and Will Rogers Learning Community.  Prior to joining the SMMUSD team, she taught third, fourth, and fifth grade at Washington Elementary School in the Hawthorne School District.  As BTSA Coordinator, Ms. Daruty trained and supported new teachers by creating and evaluating professional development through individual teacher assessments.  As Cotsen Mentor, she coached experienced teachers to improve their practice from good to great, working with each teacher closely to determine measureable action steps to meet their professional goals. 


Ms. Daruty is well-versed in creating a school climate that encourages student leadership and a positive learning environment by fostering and maintaining harmonious relations among teachers, parents, students, and the community.  As an elementary school teacher, she served as grade level team leader and participated on the School Climate Committee, Leadership Team, and Learning Walks.  In order to help students better understand reading comprehension skills, she co-created and taught intensive intervention reading programs.  She was named Rookie of the Year her first year teaching and later Teacher of the Year while with the Hawthorne School District. 


“I would like to congratulate Ms. Cochran, Ms. Gellis, and Ms. Daruty on their new positions for 2014-15,” commented Superintendent Sandra Lyon.





1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138