PUSD Update

July 6, 2021

NEW PRINCIPALS NAMED AT MARSHALL FUNDAMENTAL, ELIOT ARTS ACADEMY

Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Brian McDonald, Ed.D. has named Lori Touloumian as the principal of Marshall Fundamental Secondary School, and Benita Scheckel, Ed.D., as principal overseeing both Altadena Arts Elementary and Eliot Arts Magnet. Earlier this month, Dr. Mark Anderson, the beloved principal of Marshall Fundamental, accepted a position in another district.


“I would like to thank Dr. Anderson for his leadership at Marshall over the last ten years, and congratulate him on his new position. We will miss his creativity, energy, and enthusiasm,” said Superintendent Brian McDonald, Ed.D. “Although we highly value the input of parents and staff in the selection of new principals, with the full reopening of the new school year just weeks away, we have to move quickly to appoint new principals. With the Board’s consensus, I am pleased to appoint Lori Touloumian as principal of Marshall and Dr. Benita Scheckel as principal to lead Eliot Arts Academy and Altadena Arts Elementary at this crucial time in our district’s history. Ms. Touloumian and Dr. Scheckel are award-winning school administrators who are highly regarded in our community and bring strong experience to their new positions.”

Lori Touloumian

Lori Touloumian is the new principal of Marshall Fundamental. She has served as principal of Eliot Arts Magnet Academy since 2015 and was named PUSD’s Principal of the Year in 2018. She led the successful implementation of the arts magnet, revitalizing the campus with visual and performing arts and strong community partnerships. Ms. Touloumian established Eliot Science Night, an annual celebration of the sciences that has grown beyond the school and is now a districtwide event. Ms. Touloumian also spearheaded the district’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month events.


Ms. Touloumian has worked in PUSD since 1999. Before Eliot, she was the District’s magnet coordinator since 2013. Prior to that, she served as assistant principal at Pasadena High School (PHS) where she supervised student activities and student leadership groups and served as the liaison for the school’s Safe and Supportive Schools grant. Previously, she was chair and co-chair of the school’s English department from 2007-2010. She started in PUSD teaching 10th and 11th grade regular and honors English at PHS and has also been an Upward Bound instructor at Pasadena City College.


“I am humbled and honored to be the new Principal of Marshall Fundamental School, which has a rich tradition of excellence in academics and the arts. I look forward to working with Marshall's students, faculty, staff, parent committees, and community partners to further school-wide goals,” said Ms. Touloumian. “I am equally thrilled about the appointment of Dr. Benita Scheckel as the new principal of Eliot Arts Magnet Academy. Dr. Scheckel has been a genuine supporter of Eliot and our arts program, often collaborating with our school community on multiple events. Dr. Scheckel's appointment is a natural extension of the amazing programs that have been built via the Magnet Schools Assistance Program Grant at both of our campuses. All three campuses will continue to develop artists and scholars in PUSD.”


“Ms. Touloumian is a leader I admire for her dedication, intelligence, enthusiasm, and sheer joy around public school leadership,” said Dr. Mark Anderson. “She will bring a new and fresh perspective to help our great Marshall community continue to grow and strive for excellence in equity for all students.”

Benita Scheckel

Benita Scheckel, Ed.D., who has served as principal of Altadena Elementary since 2017, was named Principal of the Year in 2020-21 by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region XV, and will serve as principal for Altadena Arts Elementary and Eliot Arts Magnet Academy. Dr. Scheckel led the successful implementation of the arts magnet at Altadena and the introduction of the district’s first French dual language immersion program. As principal of the two schools, Dr. Scheckel will work to strengthen the ties between the two arts magnet schools, creating a preschool-8th grade pathway for the arts as well as Altadena Elementary’s French Dual Language Immersion Program.


Prior to her position at Altadena Elementary, Dr. Scheckel served as Assistant Principal of Marshall Fundamental Secondary School where she led the Academy for Creative Industries, the college and career pathway program. She was previously the K-8 curriculum resource teacher at McKinley School. From 2011-2015, Dr. Scheckel was coordinator of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme at Blair School and served on the team that brought the dual language immersion program to Blair. She began her teaching career at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) in 1999 and joined PUSD in 2007 as an English and Music teacher at Blair School. As a lead soprano in an opera touring company, Dr. Scheckel has sung internationally in several languages and performed in regional musical theater.


“It is an absolute honor to have the opportunity to continue the great work of Principal Touloumian as we further articulate our arts and French programs across two campuses in a K-8 school setting,” said Dr. Scheckel. “I am excited to learn from and to support the Eliot Arts Magnet team alongside the continued forward momentum of my Altadena Arts Magnet family. Author Alice Sebold writes, ‘Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never knew you had.’ And right now, I feel like the luckiest dreamer in the world!”