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Farewell, At Least for Now…

THE LAST WORD: Longtime educator Loren Kleinrock, who most recently served as interim superintendent, spoke at San Marino High School’s graduation on Friday. Terry Fouché Photo

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” says a famous line from The Godfather Part III, and even though the life’s work of Loren Kleinrock has absolutely nothing to do with organized crime, it wouldn’t be a stretch to hear those words coming from his mouth.

The 2018-19 school year marks Kleinrock’s 43rd at the San Marino Unified School District and—to quote another film, “Never Say Never” – it is most likely his last.

After graduating from UCLA, Kleinrock came to the San Marino Unified School District in 1975 as a Government and History teacher. He was named assistant principal at SMHS in 1986 and served until 1992, when he went to Huntington Middle School for a two-year stint as principal. He returned to SMHS in 1995 and served as principal until the summer of 2011, when he was named superintendent upon Dr. Gary Woods accepting a similar position at the Beverly Hills Unified School District. Kleinrock stayed on until Dr. Alex Cherniss was hired as superintendent in 2014. Kleinrock spent the next two years “flat retired,” in his words, until Cherniss invited him back as a consultant in 2016 to implement the state’s Next Generation Science Standards and the framework for a new state History and Social Studies curriculum.

In the spring of 2017, Dr. Eric Bergmann, San Marino High School’s assistant principal of activities, athletics and discipline, resigned to become principal at Thousand Oaks High School and Kleinrock was asked to fill in with four months left in the school year. Kleinrock was still serving as a consultant when Cherniss left to become the superintendent of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District in August 2018. Once again, the call for Kleinrock went to the bullpen and he has spent the past nine months as the SMUSD’s superintendent, again, until Dr. Jeff Wilson takes his chair on July 1.

Phew…

“I’m happy riding off into the sunset, but if there is something I can be useful for I would consider it,” said Kleinrock, who thanks to a lifelong regimen of regular exercise and a healthy diet looks a little over half of his 68 years (he will turn 69 on June 13, a milestone he will acknowledge by being the keynote speaker at that day’s meeting of the Rotary Club of San Marino).

Kleinrock consistently acknowledges he enjoys the extra sleep afforded by retirement after decades of rising at 5:00 a.m. and crawling back into the rack late at night following this meeting or that game.

“Quite frankly, one of the things I liked to do in retirement was sleep as late as I could, decide what I wanted to do that day and then go out and do it,” he said.

Reflecting on his four-plus decades or service to the community, Kleinrock told The Tribune that “San Marino High School is still a good place to send your children.”

“If you want the best education in this part of the world, then you come here,” Kleinrock said. “If you are looking for the highest GPA, then you might want to go somewhere else because it is a competitive atmosphere. Like I said in my speech, you will get challenged here, but it’s a plus.”

He acknowledged that a career in public education is now “a lot more work.”

“To be very clear, I understand that this is a job and we are not being paid to have fin, but it is less fun,” he said. “There are so many requirements from the state and everybody is going 100 miles an hour. And in San Marino, especially, because we have a small staff. We have assistant superintendents with nobody under them. There is a comradery that develops among teachers and administrators and staff when you have some informal time to spend together. It has become difficult to do that because of all the grind.”

No matter his future employment plans, Kleinrock will not be a stranger to the 91108 as he will be the San Marino City Club’s president for 2020. He and his wife, Sandy, will have more opportunities to travel spend time with their two adult children and two grandchildren.

But he didn’t rule out a return.

“If it’s right for the district,” he said.

Kleinrock’s comments seemed almost autobiographical as he delivered what will most likely be his final graduation speech in Titan Stadium.

“I would submit the real challenge lies ahead.,” Kleinrock said. “Because perhaps the greatest challenge, the most important challenge, is for you to make a positive difference in your world. To strive for a level of excellence in yourself that allows your character to shine like a mirror, reflecting the qualities of a commitment to and a compassion for others, to touch the lives of others in such a way that all those around you are better than they would have been if you were not here. Is there a more meaningful legacy that?”

According to the standards Kleinrock created and developed in San Marino, the answer would be a heartfelt “no.”

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