Cara Schneider, longtime preschool teacher in LA, 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 a dose of joy — and knowledge of The Beatles — in their lives, so once a week she beamed “Here Comes the Sun” over the school intercom. And when she was hired as an assistant principal, she didn’t want to leave her classroom, but she knew she could better serve her students in the top position.

“She came to work every day with a great love for the community that she worked so hard for,” school board president Kelly Gonez said of Schneider at a recent meeting. “Cara is fully committed to education.”

Schneider died of cancer on November 5, her sister Orly Schneider said. She was 58.

When Schneider attended UCLA in the 1980s, Orly said she wanted to teach in the city where she grew up. 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 to become an assistant principal, principal, and eventually principal in the Northwest Local District. Along the way, colleagues said, she helped dozens of teachers and principals in their classrooms and guided several of them down the school administration path. As an administrator, she supported arts programs and helped teachers secure resources they needed to help their students succeed.

In her most recent district role, she served as Administrator for the Monroe Community of Schools, overseeing 20 schools in North Hills, Panorama City and Northridge East.

“If you knew her, you would love her,” said board member Scott Schmerelson, who has also worked with Schneider.

During her first tenure on the school board, Jackie Goldberg came to know Schneider as an “outstanding teacher” who hit the ground running when she started in Cheremoya.

As a product of the LAUSD schools, Schneider “felt like she wanted to give something back to the community,” her sister said.

Schneider liaised with immigrant students and their parents, helping them with translations and providing them with resources.

When she considered becoming an assistant principal, Orly said she was reluctant because she wanted to continue working directly with students. But she also knew that she could continue to serve her students by taking on a higher position. For seven years she was the principal of Noble Avenue Elementary School in North Hills.

Laura Hanley was a first year student at Noble when Schneider arrived in 2007. At the start of each week, before the morning announcements began, Schneider played the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” over the intercom and instilled in her students a love for the English rock band, Hanley said.

Schneider, on a visit to Capitol Records with her students 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 lead a new arts program at the school. In Schneider, the teachers found someone they could confide in with their goals and ambitions, Hanley said, and she would advise them on job opportunities or career goals.

“So many of the teachers I’ve worked with at Noble have become directors or assistant directors,” Hanley said, saying at least 15 former colleagues have become administrators with Schneider’s help. “She was invested in everyone.”

Schneider treated the children of her colleagues and friends like family, Hanley said, and is remembered for her resourcefulness. When Hanley wanted her son Aidan to attend magnet school, Schneider helped her choose the right fit.

At Noble, a teacher struggled to get her students to understand the reading material and asked Schneider to add music to the curriculum to help. One morning, the teacher came to a piano in her classroom, Hanley said, a gift from Schneider, who often attended the innovative classes.

“She just spent all day, every day, finding solutions to problems so schools could thrive and kids could be the best they could be,” Hanley said.

Schneider is survived by her siblings, Ben and Orly Schneider.

Times researcher Scott Wilson contributed to this report. Cara Schneider, longtime preschool teacher in LA, dies

Caroline Bleakley

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