Dr. Dan Stepenosky, Increasing Rigor to Increase College Readiness

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.

In this episode, Dr. Dan Stepenosky, Superintendent of Las Virgenes USD, talks to us about how his district is constantly iterating its educational models to meet the evolving needs of students. More specifically, Dr. Stepenosky details how Las Virgenes USD has changed its graduation requirements to increase the rigorous preparation needed to ensure college readiness. Dr. Stepenosky’s perspective is very appreciated since he is concerned with the outcomes of all students in California, not just those within his own school district. Beyond just college readiness, he has also concentrated a lot of his efforts toward ensuring the social and emotional well-being of his students.

About Dr. Dan Stepenosky

Daniel Stepenosky was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He played clarinet and saxophone in the high school marching band and was an Eagle Scout. Dr. Stepenosky attended Villanova University on a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship. He graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.

Dr. Stepenosky served four and a half years in the United States Navy, first on the Destroyer USS Waddell and then on the Cruiser USS Chancellorville. While in the Navy, Dr. Stepenosky was engaged in counter narcotics operations off the coast of South America and in Operation Southern Watch in the Persian Gulf. He received the Naval Achievement Medal, the Navy Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.

After the Navy, Dr. Stepenosky received his Teaching Credential from the University of San Diego. He taught Physics, AP Physics, Astronomy, and Physical Science at Beverly Hills High School from 1995–2000; served as Assistant Principal at Beverly Hills High from 2000–2003; and Principal of Beverly Hills High from 2003–2006.

Dr. Stepenosky received his administrative credential and Masters in Education Leadership from California State University Northridge in 1999. He received his doctorate from UCLA in 2003 from the Graduate School of Information and Education Studies. His doctoral dissertation was on “Preventing School Shootings” and his research for this was conducted at Columbine High School.

Dr. Stepenosky joined the Las Virgenes Unified School District in 2006 and served as Assistant Superintendent of Personnel until 2011. He was the District’s Deputy Superintendent from 2011–12 and was appointed Superintendent of Schools in 2012.

In 2016 Dr. Stepenosky was selected as Superintendent of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators.

Dr. Stepenosky has lived in Calabasas since 2002 and has two children in Las Virgenes Unified School District. Dr. Stepenosky is also a cancer survivor who supports local cancer support agencies, speaks publicly and mentors cancer patients.

Dan’s grandfathers were a coal miner and steel worker. His father was the first in the family to get a college education by enlisting in the United State Marine Corps and receiving the Montgomery GI Bill to attend Penn State after his service to the country.

About Las Virgenes USD

Discover why Las Virgenes is a “Destination School District”:

  • Top API scores (top 2% in state)

  • Acceptances to top universities

  • Small class sizes

  • Lowest student to counselor ratio in region

  • STEAM (Science/Tech/Engineering/Arts/Math)

  • Waldorf-inspired, Singapore Math, K-8 school

  • High School International Baccalaureate

  • Elementary School Foreign Lang/Dual Immersion

  • Elementary School Arts and Technology focus

  • High School Media and Entertainment Academy

  • Self-contained GATE classroom at AE Wright

Recent District Recognition:

  • Named to College Board’s AP Honor Roll

  • California Distinguished Schools and National Blue Ribbon Schools

  • California Gold Ribbon Schools

  • California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE) 2014 Honor Roll

  • U.S. News Best High Schools Silver Award

  • School to Watch — Taking Center Stage Award

  • Scored in top 2% of State based on STAR testing

  • Championship Athletic Programs

  • Award Winning Music Programs

  • Innovative Program Grant (STEAM)

  • Recycling at Work Award

  • Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Certified

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