PASO ROBLES — Soon Winifred Pifer Elementary School will be seeing a new principal on campus, as current Principal Carol Stoner will be retiring after 40 years in education.
The new principal, Megen Guffey-Esquibel, is currently the Guidance Specialist at Pat Butler Elementary and District English Language Development (ELD) Coordinator. Her new role at Winifred Pifer begins this fall, so she will be setting up as principal by the end of the summer.
“It’s a really great school with a great veteran staff,” Esquibel said of her new placement, adding that she’s excited to bring her own experience as a teacher to the new school. She hopes a teacher perspective will help with the transition of principals.
“I’ll bring my love for curriculum to each child in the way that connects the most with them,” she said.
Before becoming an administrator, Esquibel spent 16 years as a bilingual elementary teacher. She was recognized as site teacher of the year in both Paso Robles (at Virginia Peterson Elementary) and in Santa Maria.
Esquibel has a variety of experience, including developing curriculum in a GATE magnet school, working with English Learners and their families and developing a strong school-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system. Regarding the PBIS system, she said she absolutely loves it, especially when paired with excellent parent/school communication.
A local, whose family has lived in the North County for more than a century, she graduated from Atascadero High School in 1988. Her parents, brother and sister all still live in Paso Robles.
“My parents graduated from Paso High in 1960,” she said. “My brother and one of my sisters are in the wine industry.”
Wanting to be a counselor, she earned her Master of Arts in Education with Specialization in Counseling and Guidance at Cal Poly and a Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences also from Cal Poly. She became fluent in Spanish by studying the language in high school, and by taking two four-week programs in Mexico through the university.
Esquibel holds a Professional Clear Administrative Credential, Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential/BCLAD (Spanish) with a Single Subject Authorization to teach Social Science through eighth grade, and Pupil/Personnel Services Credential from Cal Poly as well.
After spending a few years working for Santa Maria Bonita School District as a bilingual fourth grade elementary teacher, she worked as an elementary school teacher in Colorado Springs, Co.
When Esquibel returned to the North County from Colorado to be closer to family, she was hired by current Winifred Pifer principal Carol Stoner, who was principal of Virginia Peterson at the time.
“It’s a neat connection to have with her,” she said. “Knowing that she was retiring — and I’ve been working the whole time in education toward becoming a principal, so the time was just right.”
For ten years PRJUSD had her working as a bilingual elementary teacher and second grade English Acquisition Program (EAP) teacher. She became the District ELD Coordinator in 2014 and the Elementary Guidance Specialist position (Vice Principal, essentially) in 2016.
Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters: Jordan, a sixth-grader, and Rileigh, a third-grader. Both daughters are competitive dancers for Motions Academy of Dance in Atascadero and go to school in Templeton. She said it’s like a “blended family” since her parents went to Paso High, she went to Atascadero High, and her children are at Templeton schools.
The new principal said she was recently asked to dance at one of her daughter’s regional performances, but insists she’s not that talented. She is also lover of hiking and backpacking, whose favorite natural settings are Kings Canyon and Yosemite.
Though the mountains are her happy place, she definitely knows her way around the elementary school world.
As for her new job, she said, “I’m ready. I’m the type of person who likes to know I’m ready before I jump in, but I feel like I’m prepared for the challenges ahead.”