For Helena Yoon-Fontamillas, who recently took over as principal at Los Angeles High School, leaving John Burroughs Middle School—where she’d been assistant principal for the past five years—was a bittersweet experience.
At John Burroughs, “I built so many wonderful relationships with students, staff and the community,” said Yoon-Fontamillas.
Her accomplishments there included building a rapport with students and families and creating a strong professional development program for teachers. She also served as the school-community liaison with Hancock Park residents. In addition, she worked side by side with school neighbor and supporter Joanne Mederois—who Yoon-Fontamillas calls a true friend of JB—on a three-year beautification project.
“Take a look at the front of the school and see just how gorgeous it is,” she said. “It’s a great honor knowing that I had a part in creating something beautiful that will last a long time for many to enjoy.”
Now Yoon-Fontamillas is looking forward to the exciting and challenging work of leading the high school on Olympic Blvd. “I know that L.A. High, like John Burroughs, has a long and rich history. There is tremendous legacy and pride being a Roman, and I feel extremely honored to be a part of the school’s history.”
She’s also excited about the chance to work with older kids. “It’s definitely a new experience that I embrace. It’s an amazing opportunity to work with high school youth and to have direct influence and impact on their college and life choices,” said Yoon-Fontamillas.
“I find it powerful and inspiring to engage in conversation with students about college, their hopes and dreams,” added the principal, who holds three masters’ degrees as well as a doctorate in K-12 Leadership in Education from USC.
Her focus at L.A. High is to build a strong learning community and help foster school pride by working toward increasing student achievement. “I plan to work closely with the faculty to strengthen our instructional program to attract the best and the brightest students, and to work collaboratively with community stakeholders to rebuild L.A. High to its premier days,” she said.