Don Austin graduated from Chula Vista High School in 1988 where he was a standout athlete in football, basketball and track. He was selected to the All-Metro Conference Football Team in 1986 and 1987, named football captain, and earned the Coach’s Award in 1987. In addition, his 1986 team won the Metro League Football Championship. A natural leader, Don was also captain of the track team in 1986 and 1987.
He attended Southwestern College from 1988 to 1990 and chose to concentrate on playing football. In 1988, his team won the Mission Conference Championship, and Don was selected as team captain in 1990.
After Southwestern, Don moved on to Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, from 1991 to 1994, playing football and again serving as team captain in 1992—the same year his team won the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) Championship. It seemed that wherever Don played and served as captain, his teams won championships!
Upon graduating from Baker, Don’s first job was as a teacher for three years at Sunnymead Middle School in the Moreno Valley Unified School District. He then became a teacher and Director of Activities at West Valley High School in Hemet, CA, Unified School District for two years. 1999 saw Don entering full-time administration as Assistant Principal at Park View Middle School in the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District. Along the way, he found time to coach football and basketball. In addition to fulfilling his daily job requirements, Don made time to earn his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from Azusa Pacific University.
He served 11 years as a high school principal, first at La Sierra High School in Riverside and then at Laguna Beach High School. He was involved in the management of new construction, collective bargaining and was district coordinator of data analysis. Don is proud of his work ethic and leadership style that he learned from his parents, coaches and teammates.
From 2011-2014, Don was selected to serve as Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for the Huntington Beach Unified High School District. Since 2014, he has served as the Superintendent of Schools for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, a school district that is currently ranked as the top school district in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, #5 in California, and is routinely listed as one of the top school districts in the entire nation.
Don’s coaching skills are clearly evident when he modestly states that, “I have been fortunate to see 10 of my former assistants become principals and two of my assistants become superintendents.” It seems that being around Don Austin and learning from him leads to success. This is the true definition of “a leader.”
Don supports the Peninsula Education Foundation, raising about $3.4 million per year to support the schools in his district. He is a consistent lobbyist for educational issues at the local and state level. Always goal orientated even in his recreational pursuits, he has completed nine half-marathons and two marathons.
His “cheering section” includes his wife of 23 years, Paula, his son, Garrett, a student at the University of Utah and a volleyball coach, his daughter, Emilie, a student athlete in volleyball at Westminster College, and his daughter, Kristin, a student athlete in volleyball at Edison High School. Don’s father, Gerry, and mother, Jackie, a former Southwestern College employee, completely supported Don’s athletic efforts and never missed any of his games.
The Southwestern College Athletic Hall of Fame Committee welcomes student athlete, coach and educational administrator Don Austin into the Class of 2017!