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Al Mijares

By Kelly St. JohnPublished: November 01, 2012

Superintendent of Schools
Orange County Department of Education, Costa Mesa
Hot factor: Al oversees the education of more than 500,000 students

Al Mijares took the helm of the county’s Department of Education this summer, after being appointed by the Board of Education to succeed the retiring Bill Habermehl. That puts the 34-year educator in a unique position to shape the lives of the county’s more than 500,000 students.

Mijares comes to the job from his tenure as vice president of the Western Region of the College Board, the maker of the SAT and Advanced Placement exams. He also previously served as superintendent of Santa Ana Unified Schools for more than 11 years.

Married to his wife, Jackie, for 39 years, Mijares is the proud father of five grown sons, all educated in Orange County public schools. Mijares is also a motorcycle enthusiast who owns three bikes, as well as a passionate fan of USC football and the proud owner of two English bulldogs.

Mijares now oversees the education department’s 1,300 employees as they work with local school districts to continually improve the quality of education in the region. That’s no small task in this era of school budget cuts.

“It is a challenging time to be in education, and that also excites me,” says Mijares. “I still think there are tremendous opportunities for improving the quality of education.”

He has great compassion for educators today. “They are doing more with less, and are expected to,” he says. “What we can’t do is show our students any sense of disillusionment, doubt, ambiguity or a lack of resolve. They come to our classrooms every day expecting the best, and we have to deliver.”

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