Gooden joins ESUSD with 17 years experience serving secondary students primarily in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and a brief period at Glendale Unified and Fairfax County Public Schools. She began her career as a special education teacher in Virginia prior to relocating to California in 2002. She worked in administration since 2007, serving as program specialist, district administrator, and an assistant principal. She has considerable expertise in the areas of special education, data-based decision making, targeted interventions for students, and positive behavior intervention and support.
Gooden earned her doctorate in educational leadership from University of Southern California. Her dissertation focused on globalization and was entitled The Impact of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education on the Development of a Knowledge-Based Economy in Costa Rica. She earned her master’s degree in teaching from National University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from the University of Delaware.
During her tenure as an assistant principal at Los Angeles High School, Gooden was known for being an exceptional school leader. She has a reputation as a highly successful administrator who has garnered substantial support from the faculty she has worked with due to her warm approach, consistency, and commitment to making decisions based on what is best for students. Some of her responsibilities included oversight and evaluation of teachers in three academic departments: mathematics, the integrated community arts pathway, and special education. She was responsible for coordination of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation process. She aligned various school plans; analyzed the data; collaborated with various stakeholders in writing and monitoring the plan; participated in community engagement with PTO, alumni, and neighborhood council; implemented positive behavior supports; and created a teacher-led professional development cycle.
As part of the hiring process, ESUSD conducted a comprehensive reference check. “Dr. Gooden is an excellent communicator, extremely thoughtful, and a team player,” says Melissa Moore, ESUSD superintendent. “She remains a learner at heart, which I believe makes her a leader who listens and works fiercely to provide educational excellence for all students.”
Gooden’s significant expertise in special education resulted in a district-operated alternative to non-public school placement at Los Angeles High Schol and increased access and equity. Her knowledge of high school administration will also be an asset, as she will look to align program expectations and learning outcomes focused on preparation and student success at the high school level.
ESUSD would like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. Melissa Gooden.
About the El Segundo Unified School District
The El Segundo Unified School District (ESUSD) was established in 1912 to serve all of the residents living in the City of El Segundo and covers the western part of the city. ESUSD consists of six schools including the Eagle’s Nest Preschool, Richmond Street and Center Street Elementary Schools, El Segundo Middle School, El Segundo High School and the Arena/Virtual High School, as well as partnerships with the South Bay Adult School and California Regional Occupational Center (SoCal ROC).