Cara Schneider, longtime L.A. educator, dies

Cara Schneider, a Fairfax High School graduate and longtime Los Angeles teacher and administrator, knew her students well. She knew they spoke Spanish, so she learned the language. She knew they needed doses of joy — and knowledge of the Beatles in their lives — so she blasted “Here Comes the Sun” once a week on the school intercom. And when she was tapped to become an assistant principal, she didn’t want to leave her classroom, but she knew she could better serve her students in the top job. “Every day, she came to work with a great love for the community she worked so hard to serve,” school board President Kelly Gonez said of Schneider during a recent meeting. “Above all, Cara was completely committed to the mission of education.”Schneider died of cancer on Nov. 5, her sister, Orly Schneider, said. She was 58. When Schneider attended UCLA in the 1980s, she wanted to teach in the city where she grew up, Orly said. She began working for the Los Angeles Unified School District in 1987 as a bilingual teacher at Cheremoya Avenue Elementary School in Hollywood.After teaching for several years, she rose through the ranks, becoming an assistant principal, principal and eventually a director in Local District Northwest. Along the way, colleagues said, she helped support dozens of teachers and principals in their classrooms and guided several of them onto a path of school administration. As an administrator, she supported art programs and helped teachers secure resources they needed to help their students thrive. In her last role at the district, she served as an administrator of the Monroe Community of Schools, leading 20 schools in North Hills, Panorama City and Northridge East.“If you knew her, you would love her,” said board member Scott Schmerelson, who also worked with Schneider.During her first term on the school board, Jackie Goldberg came to know Schneider as a “terrific teacher” who hit the ground running when she began at Cheremoya. As the product of LAUSD schools, Schneider “felt that she wanted to give back to the community,” her sister said. Schneider sought to connect with immigrant students and their parents, helping them with translations and connecting them with resources.When she considered becoming an assistant principal, she hesitated because she wanted to continue working directly with students, Orly said. But she also knew she could further advocate for her students by taking on a higher position. She served as principal of Noble Elementary School in North Hills for seven years.Laura Hanley was working as a first-grade teacher at Noble when Schneider came in 2007. At the start of every week, before kicking off morning announcements, Schneider played “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles over the intercom, instilling in her students a love for the English rock band, Hanley said.Schneider, on a visit with her students to Capitol Records to record their own renditions of songs, wore a Beatles shirt for the trip.A supporter of the arts, she recruited Hanley to help host an annual multicultural event and direct a new arts program at the school. In Schneider, teachers found someone who they felt comfortable confiding in about their goals and aspirations, Hanley said, and she would advise them on job openings or career goals.“So many of the teachers I’ve worked with at Noble have become principals or assistant principals,” Hanley said, saying at least 15 former colleagues have gone on to become administrators with Schneider’s help. “She was invested in everybody.”Schneider treated the children of her colleagues and friends as family, Hanley said, and is remembered for her resourcefulness. When Hanley wanted her son Aidan to attend a magnet school, Schneider helped her choose the right fit. At Noble, one teacher struggled to get her students to grasp reading material and asked Schneider about implementing music into the curriculum to help. One morning, the teacher arrived to a piano in her classroom, Hanley said, a gift from Schneider, who would often attend the innovative classes. “She just spent all day every day finding solutions to problems so that schools could thrive and kids could reach the best of their potential,” Hanley said.Schneider is survived by her siblings, Ben and Orly Schneider.

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