Peoria Unified governing board appoints new administrators

Positions would be for 2023-24 school year

Posted 6/5/23

Peoria Unified welcomes the following new administrators to its team for the 2023-24 school year.

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Peoria Unified governing board appoints new administrators

Positions would be for 2023-24 school year


Peoria Unified welcomes the following new administrators to its team for the 2023-24 school year.

Lori Garcia will serve as the district’s new executive director of exceptional student services.

Garcia currently serves Peoria Unified as the director of special education where she has led for the past two years. Prior to this role, Garcia served Peoria Unified as a special education coordinator and she previously held the role as interim director of special education. She has a strong background in special education and instructional leadership, previously serving in the roles of director for exceptional student services, director of teaching and learning, special services program coordinator and assistant principal in Alhambra Elementary School District and Union Elementary School District.

Garcia has also served as an education program specialist for the Arizona Department of Education, district math coach, special education facilitator and interventionist and special education teacher across the state of Arizona.

This new role will oversee special education, English language learners, federal programs, preschool and gifted education.

Karie Burns will be the new director of federal programs.

Burns will join Peoria Unified transitioning from her current role as principal in Dysart Unified School District. She previously served as an assistant principal in Dysart Unified and was a turnaround coach at the Arizona Department of Education.

Burns, officials said, is well-regarded and respected by her colleagues in Dysart Unified and will bring a dynamic energy to the academic services support team that focuses on teaching, learning, and student-centered, data driven instruction.

She will replace Laurie Little who is retiring from Peoria Unified after 22 years serving the district as a district level administrator and site level administrator.

Sherry Piazza is shifting into the role of director of learning and teaching.

She has been a part of Peoria Unified since 2001 where she has had various roles, including professional development coordinator, instructional coach, reading interventionist and teacher.

Her experience includes working with professional learning communities, collective commitments, textbook adoption, comprehensive needs assessment, building goals for student achievement and technology integration.

Anita Gomez will serve as the principal at Desert Palms Elementary School beginning the 2023-24 school year.

She currently holds the position of assistant principal at Desert Valley Elementary School and has served in that capacity for the past four years. Previously she was the director of federal programs and Peoria Unified’s test coordinator from 2017 to 2019. Prior to that, she served as principal in the Fountain Hills Unified School District from 2004 to 2017.

She began her educational career in 2990 and held various roles as a math teacher and instructional coach before taking on leadership roles.

Jewelene Bachanos has been appointed as the new principal of Heritage Elementary School for the upcoming school year.

She currently holds the role as assistant principal at Frontier Elementary School and has been an assistant principal in Peoria Unified since 2016.

Previously she held the role of instructional coach, and she served as a teacher at Country Meadows Elementary School from 2007 to 2015. She has also assisted with planning and presenting district professional development throughout her tenure.