New principals named for Canyon View, Meadow Park and Stonegate elementary schools

IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker on Friday announced a trio of new principals for the 2014-15 school year.

Christina Giguiere, who currently leads a high-achieving elementary school in Redondo Beach, was named the next principal of Canyon View Elementary School; Thomas Potwora, who has been an elementary principal for the last 10 years in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, will be principal at Meadow Park Elementary; and Harmony Hager, a Stonegate Elementary School teacher who has taken on administrative duties this year, has been tapped to become Stonegate’s next principal.

All three will assume their new roles on July 1.


We begin with Giguiere, who started out in IUSD in 2003, teaching first and third grades at Turtle Rock Elementary School. In 2007, she was hired as a credential program coordinator at UC Irvine, and since 2012 she has served as principal of Tulita Elementary School in Redondo Beach.

Giguiere“Not only is she an accomplished school leader who has served most recently as principal at a high-performing elementary school in Southern California, she’s also a former IUSD teacher who has led teacher preparation programs at the University of California, Irvine,” Superintendent Walker said. “Most important, she is committed to the long-term success of Canyon View.”

Along with a bachelor’s degree in communications from UC Santa Barbara, Giguiere has a master’s degree in teaching from UC Irvine and a master’s degree in reading from Cal State Fullerton.

She will succeed Susan Kemp, who will be leaving this summer to open the new Cypress Village Elementary School.


Thomas Potwora began his career in education as an English teacher at Hilton D. Bell Intermediate School in Garden Grove and later embraced the opportunity to serve as that school’s counselor. In 1999, he was named assistant principal of Vista View Middle School in the Ocean View School District, and in 2002 he became principal at Lake View Elementary School in the same district.

PotworaFor the last 10 years, Potwora has been a principal in SVUSD, leading O’Neill Elementary School in Mission Viejo and Rancho Cañada Elementary School in Lake Forest.

“Tom is an experienced leader with an outstanding track record at high-performing schools with diverse student populations,” Walker said. “He’s a great fit for Meadow Park.”

A resident of San Clemente, Potwora has three children and holds a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in educational administration, a teaching credential and an administrative credential — all from Cal State Long Beach.

He’ll take over for Laura Vlasic, who was named interim principal in December as the Meadow Park community mourned the loss of Lisa Livernois.


Hager is no stranger to IUSD or to Stonegate. She began her career at Turtle Rock Elementary, assisting in both the special education and third-grade programs in 2007. In 2009, as a fifth-grade teacher, she earned honors as a Teacher of Promise, and later that year she helped open Stonegate.


As a sixth-grade teacher, and one of the school’s first staff members, she’s led efforts to develop a Safe School Action Plan and site-based Green Team at Stonegate. This year, she has helped accommodate Stonegate’s enrollment surge as a teaching assistant principal.

“In addition to being extremely knowledgeable of the students, staff and school community at Stonegate, Harmony is well-versed in instruction and the new Common Core standards, and she’s been a leader in technology integration who has experience with numerous school programs,” Walker said.

Hager, the oldest of 10 brothers and sisters, has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a multiple-subject teaching credential from Cal State Fullerton, as well as a master’s degree in educational administration and an administrative credential from Concordia University. She’ll succeed Stan Machesky, who will assume the roll of director of elementary education on July 1.

[Update on April 21: IUSD has also named a new principal for Plaza Vista School. Click here to read more.]