Alicia Payton-Miyazaki, Principal of Oak Knoll School
Alicia Payton-Miyazaki joined MPCSD first as a student at both Oak Knoll and then Hillview, then as a science teacher in 2001. She worked at Hillview teaching science for 15 years until becoming the district Teacher on Special Assignment for Math and Science K-8, followed by Assistant Principal of Oak Knoll in 2020 and her current role as Principal of Oak Knoll School in 2021. In between her time as a student and as a teacher, she moved to New York, earning a biology degree from Vassar College, and returned to California to do research into HIV and toxoplasmosis gondii at Stanford Medical Center and SRI.
That research role set her on a path that defines her and her leadership ethic today. Alicia recalls, “That research work was helping vulnerable people right when they needed it most. Looking at where help is needed and providing that help is so meaningful. I believe in doing the right things at the right moment, and that is what we strive for as school leaders in MPCSD.”
Providing help and increasing equity has always been a focus for Alicia. As a 14-year-old high school student, she and her classmates started a small non-profit with their teacher as their mentor making science kits for students in inner-city schools because they realized that without access to advanced science experiences, some students lacked the leverage needed to succeed in higher level high school courses. Fostering equity has been a focus of hers since she returned to MPCSD as a Hillview science teacher in 2001 and continues into her current work at Oak Knoll. Inequitable access and outcomes in STEM fields have lifelong implications for students and have driven her work with the Oak Knoll staff and community to ensure that all students have what they need to thrive.