Anthony Saba, Bridging the Opportunity Gap in Santa Ana

The Path to Higher Ed is a SchooLinks hosted podcast community that explores trending topics and issues in the area of college and career readiness. Our featured guests are pushing education forward by constantly learning from, innovating and applying their college and career readiness practices. Listen to gain their insights and apply them to your own college and career readiness practices.

Today, we’re speaking with Anthony Saba, Head of School at Samueli Academy in Santa Ana, CA. At Samueli Academy, Anthony is integral to building a college-going culture within a historically underrepresented community. While Samueli reaches ALL kids, it’s targeted focus on reaching students in the foster care system is truly remarkable. SchooLinks is fortunate to have had an opportunity to pick Anthony’s brain about what it takes reach students.

About Anthony Saba

Anthony Saba brings over 15 years of high school experience, both in the classroom and in school administration, to Samueli Academy. After an extensive national search he was hired as Samueli Academy’s Head of School in July, 2012. “Anthony stood out among the many applicants for the position because of his passion for education and his proven experience as a leader,” says Bruce Fetter, Board Chairman of Orangewood Children’s Foundation. “Anthony’s enthusiasm and love of learning will be infectious and encourage the best in all students.”

Anthony began his career teaching high school business and math courses while coaching varsity football. He was named the “Rookie of the Year” his first year of teaching. He led the school’s virtual business program with students in the class running their own business including creating business plans, marketing plans, financial documents, and buying/selling with other virtual business classes around the country. The program received several statewide awards and participated in national competitions.

Anthony’s success in the classroom propelled him into administration. As an administrator, he has held the positions of assistant dean, dean of students, athletic director, assistant principal and principal. At Frontier High School in Bakersfield, California he was instrumental in building a high-achieving school from the ground up that achieved high test scores, high graduation rates and acceptance into college, and a successful athletic program. Most recently Anthony was principal of Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, California. While there he established teacher professional learning communities and common formative assessments, both designed to foster teacher communication, collaboration and accountability to identify successful teaching techniques. In 2014, Mr. Saba was named one of the “Top 40 Under 40” professionals in Orange County by O.C. Metro Magazine.

Anthony holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Miami, and a teaching credential and Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Point Loma University. Originally from Bakersfield, he now resides in Newport Beach with his wife and two children.

In Anthony’s own words:

“My teaching philosophy is to allow students to take an active, hands-on role in their learning. I think it is especially important in the 21st century that we don’t just teach students WHAT they need to know, but show them WHY they need to know it.”

About Samueli Academy

The idea for Samueli Academy started almost 10 years ago with Susan Samueli and Sandi Jackson, two local philanthropists and members of the board of directors of Orangewood Foundation. Susan and Sandi were concerned about the low high school graduation rates among teens in Orange County, including foster care teens served by Orangewood. They decided to explore new educational opportunities for local high school students and research best practices around the country. They rallied like-minded individuals and organizations from philanthropy, business, education and child advocacy to join their efforts. Of her initial interest Susan says, “I think it’s because Sandi and I are both mothers and grandmothers. We know that it’s so important for children to do well in high school and to go on to college. We felt that Orange County needed an academy such as this that would give students the kind of care, attention and education they need to succeed in life.”

Along the way, the influential group identified a number of best practices that have been incorporated into Samueli Academy including:

  • A learning environment that maximizes individual student attention

  • A staff that cares about the “whole” student

  • Work-based learning

  • College Readiness

  • State of the art technology for all students

  • Project-based learning

  • Exciting and fulfilling after-school programs

Samueli Academy offers educationally under-served communities a new choice for the high school education of their teens. Future expansion of the campus will include on-site housing for those students who need a stable living environment in order for them to excel academically.

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