Former Math Teacher Jen Ochsner Joins Administrative Team as Assistant Principal


Bia Shok

Assistant principal Jen Ochsner is talking to a former student during snack. She says that because she is comfortable with adapting quickly and problem solving, she enjoys being in an administrative position. “I’m also somebody who enjoys the process of problem solving and enjoys thinking outside the box . . . With a lot of things going on and changing, I am comfortable with that and comfortable with having to shift and adapt to things that change, and things that need to get done,” Ochsner said.

Bia Shok, Features Editor

After former assistant principal Kris Linville transferred to the role of director of Irvine Virtual Academy, former math teacher Jen Ochsner became the third assistant principal as of the 2020-21 school year alongside returning principals Jeffrey Hernandez and Amy Paulsen.

The decision was necessary to fulfill IUSD’s guidelines that all high schools in the district have three assistant principals to help administration with their workloads, according to Hernandez.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this without three. We all divide the administrative duties up,” Hernandez said. “We are essentially running a small city, [and] having her onboard is hugely helpful to us because she has been helping us reopen the school.”

Some of Ochsner’s main tasks for this school year are overseeing attendance, school safety and the health office. She also oversees the visual and performance arts, literary and language arts and english language learner departments as well as students with last names from J to S. 

According to principal John Pehrson, her work ethic as well as her sound judgement make her a compatible individual for a job that requires organization and perseverance.

“She has lots of experience in dealing with students and particularly Portola students. She is good with people,” Pehrson said. “She was a very well-respected and proficient teacher and is familiar with Portola [and the] Irvine community. We asked a lot of scenario questions, and she was able to provide really sound judgement in her answers and was highly recommended by the people she works with.”

Hernandez also said that aside from her organized and detail-oriented qualities, her comprehensive understanding of Portola’s unique culture differentiated her from other candidates outside of site. 

“One of the greatest attributes she has is that she’s very inquisitive, she wants to know, she wants to ask questions,” Hernandez said. “She’s tenacious, she’s definitely a go-getter, she wants to do everything possible, to learn everything and go after it . . . It was really clear in the interview process that she knew the culture. Her personality and how smart she is and her attention to detail definitely made her stand out amongst the other strong candidates.”

Although Ochsner’s new position requires her to adapt to different tasks from when she was employed as a math teacher, she said she enjoys the problem solving and interactive aspects of the assistant principal job.

“I love Portola, and I want to stay here. So I saw the opportunity come up, and it was another chance for me to continue working with the same students and staff and take on a new challenge,” Ochsner said. “This is going to be an opportunity to really get outside my own experiences in the math department and get to work with teachers with different disciplines and coaches and really expand my connections on campus.