CONTACT:  Sarah Wahrenbrock                       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.450.8338, ext. 70229                                   13 AUG 2014





At its meeting on August 13, 2014, the Board of Education approved the appointment Mr. Chris Regan as the new Assistant Principal overseeing Malibu Middle School, Dr. Yusuf Allahjah as the new Assistant Principal of John Adams Middle School, Dr. Ashley Benjamin as the new Assistant Principal at Franklin Elementary School, and Ms. Lynda Holeva as the new Assistant Principal at Will Rogers Learning Community / BTSA Coordinator for 2014-15. 


Below is more information on Mr. Regan, Dr. Allahjah, Dr. Benjamin, and Ms. Holeva. 


Mr. Chris Regan

Mr. Regan has been serving as the Assistant Principal of John Adams Middle School for the past four years.  Prior to joining SMMUSD, Mr. Regan served as the Assistant Principal of Agoura High School, the Dean of Student Support at Alice C. Stelle Middle School, as the Principal of Secondary Summer School for LVUSD, and as a Spanish teacher.  As Assistant Principal at JAMS, Mr. Regan worked with the special education services team to decrease the achievement gap for students with special needs.  He collaborated with staff to create Professional Learning Communities (PLCs – one of our district’s goals), implement student achievement assessments directly into the curriculum, and guided teachers in incorporating meaningful technology into their daily lessons to increase student engagement.


Mr. Regan focuses on creating an environment of trust and caring on his school campus by making strong relationships with employees, students, and parents.  He works closely with all the adults in a school community in order to create a supportive school climate in which all students can succeed


Dr. Yusuf Allahjah

Dr. Allahjah comes to our district from Berendo Middle School in LAUSD, where he has been teaching social studies.  Prior to that, he served as a seventh grade history textbook consultant with McDougal Littell.  Dr. Allahjah is also a USC adjunct professor in the Master of Arts Teaching program.  He is a published author, having written Podemos: The Latino Parents Guide to Help Your Child Prepare for College. 


Dr. Allahjah has committed his career in education to equity and access for all students.  A strong instructional leader, he is well-versed in up-to-date, effective instructional strategies and ensures his teachers are equally dedicated to student achievement.  He understands that student success is also dependent on what happens outside of the classroom, and therefore strives to create and maintain strong connections with families and the larger community.  As a teacher with LAUSD, he served as a union chair and received the Perryman Award for Outstanding Teaching of World History by the California Council for Social Studies.  Dr. Allahjah is already committed to the excellence of SMMUSD, having had two children graduate from our schools


Dr. Ashley Benjamin

Dr. Benjamin comes to our district from LAUSD, where she has been serving as the Associate Principal/Categorical programs Advisor at Emerson Middle School for the past year.  Prior to that, she served as the Testing Coordinator at Broadway Elementary School, K-5 Intervention Coordinator at Queen Anne Place Elementary School, and taught second, fourth, and sixth grade, all in LAUSD.  As Associate Principal, Dr. Benjamin served on the School Site Council, English Learner Advisory Council, and School Based Management Team, as well as served as the testing coordinator and GATE coordinator. 


Dr. Benjamin is well-versed in best practices for student engagement and improving instructional strategies based on data analysis and student needs.  She motivates students and encourages them to be leaders among their peers.  She includes parents in the learning process by coordinating family science nights and parent seminars on Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and standardized assessments.  Dr. Benjamin is also experienced in strategies for closing the achievement gap, including Response to Invention (RTI) programs, targeted instruction for English Learners, and integrating technology into the classroom.  As a teacher, Dr. Benjamin received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Wilshire Rotary Club.  Her peers describe her as calm, approachable, knowledgeable, and an excellent collaborator


Ms. Lynda Holeva

Ms. Holeva comes to our district from LAUSD, where she has been serving as the Assistant Principal at Olivenhain Elementary School in the Encinitas Union School District.  Prior to that, she served as the Summer Enrichment Academy Principal, BTSA Coordinator and Mentor, GATE Coordinator, and elementary school teacher, all with the Encinitas Union School District.  As Assistant Principal, Ms. Holeva provided professional development services, served on the School Site Council, and was the administrative designee for IEPs and Student Success Teams. 


Ms. Holeva is well-versed in instructional leadership, having coached new teachers in Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI), Essential Elements of Instruction (EEI), differentiating instruction, classroom management, inquiry-based learning, Socratic Seminars, 21st Century themes and skills, and EL support.  Her work at Harvard focused, in part, on family and school connections, Response to Intervention (RTI), and using formative assessments to improve upon and guide instructional strategies.  Understanding that learning is dependent on students feeling safe and confident in their environment, Ms. Holeva also revised and led a conflict-resolution skills program for elementary school students


“I would like to congratulate Mr. Regan on his new position and welcome Dr. Allahjah, Dr. Benjamin, and Ms. Holeva to SMMUSD for 2014-15,” commented Lyon.





1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138