Home > 2018 CCAE State Award Winners

Life Membership Award


Dominick Gagliardi

Southern Section

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In the years before his 2017 retirement, Dominick (Dom) Gagliardi spearheaded multiple school and county-wide projects as principal of Escondido Adult School (EAS). In 2015-16, Dom increased his focus on developing career pathways for high school CTE programs and other initiatives that would expand the CTE programs at EAS while retaining overall responsibility for the adult school budgets, AEBG consortium planning, and leadership in the WASC accreditation process. During this time he oversaw the school's initial WASC self-study in 2012 as well as the first full school self study in 2016. Much of the action plan from this self-study was directed toward AEBG plans. Dom was at the visionary vanguard of the AEBG consortium of North County San Diego, currently known as the Education to Career Network. He co-led the consortium in areas such as data collection, advertising, and transitions development. While retired, he still remains a key factor in setting the ongoing positive course of this consortium. A believer in transitions and career and college counseling for adult students, EAS was the first school in this group to hire a site-based transitions coordinator and since this hiring in 2016, students have had access to these pathways to help guide them to the next step. Before this, Dom helped make EAS a Pearson Vue and ETS testing center. Currently the school offers both HiSET and GED HSE options along with general vocational exams. Throughout this period and dating back roughly 10 years to the end of designated funding, Dom has demonstrated calm and steadfast leadership and showed an acute ability to keep the school on a successful track. He was a huge proponent of professional development for staff and himself throughout his career, and consistently attended major CCAE, ACSA, and COABE conferences over this time.

Dom has worked in the educational field for nearly four decades and taught ABE, ASE, an ESL in the Grossmont district, some of which was in a correctional setting. He served as assistant principal in the Escondido district from 1999-2003 before becoming principal in 2003 and provided consistently exceptional and visionary leadership until he stepped down in 2017. Dom's contributions extend across all levels of adult education and in turn he has been honored at the district, state, and national levels for these accomplishments. However, while the plaudits, awards, and contributions are many, securing a home for K-12 adult education in a beautiful facility in 2011 may rank as one of Dom's crowning career achievements given all the moving parts and financial hurdles involved in such an undertaking, including district and school board backing. In addition to the building, in 2016 Dom headed the first full school self study in the nearly 50 year history of Escondido Adult School. It resulted in the maximum six year WASC accreditation seal of approval. This process was long in the making and a huge accomplishment for Dom, the school, and K-12 adult education in the district.

For roughly 30 years Dom has been an active member of CCAE and to this day he is still highly engaged. At the section level, Mr. Gagliardi's influence and accomplishments resulted in the creation of an award bearing his name which honors exemplary support for adult education. Since 2015, this award has been presented at our annual Southern Section Conference, with Dom handing it off to the worthy recipient. He has served in a variety of positions over his CCAE career, including president, and his enthusiasm for the organization spread to other staff at his school as well as his fellow administrators. The passion and dedication to CCAE has borne fruit in the people that have followed Dom as key CCAE contributors within the Southern Section. A prime example is Brian Head, Dom's long-serving AP and active predecessor as principal at EAS. Mr. Head also served as CCAE section president and is now encouraging the next wave of leadership at our school to become active CCAE participants. Without the career long involvement of Mr. Gagliardi in CCAE, it is highly unlikely Escondido Adult School and the Southern Section at large would be flourishing to the degree it is at present.

Dom's name is well known throughout the sphere of adult education in California and when considering a lifetime membership award, this is truly an individual who has dedicated himself to the cause, even making time to visit and consult with other adult school leaders when his calendar couldn't hold any more appointments. Such was the importance and value he put on giving back and helping schools learn from all his years of knowledge. Yet at his retirement party in July 2017, when asked his most memorable accomplishment, he mentioned two students. Both, he explained, had literally grown up during his tenure and both had been taken under his wing when they needed a bit of direction or advice on occasion. Today both have gone on to successful CTE-related careers. Dom never lost sight of the individual impact his position could have on others. Moreover, he was always looking for ways to improve our school for the students, be it faster internet, establishing MOU's within the community, or partnering with the district on various CTE endeavors. This seemingly magic touch and ability to unite people around his mission was noticed by the head of the WASC visiting committee in early 2016. She marveled at all he had undertaken, the multiple plates he seemed to be spinning, and his track record of getting things done while also achieving buy in from the stakeholders involved. She coined this, "The Dom Effect," and to those who have witnessed it over the years there could not be a better name to summarize all Dominick Gagliardi has done in the field of adult education.