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Jeff Tilton seeking election as SJ County schools leader
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Manteca High graduate Jeff Tilton is running for the position of San Joaquin County Office of Education Superintendent of Schools.

Incumbent Mick Founts announced last week that he will not seek re-election in 2014. Gary Dei Rossi is also seeking to replace Founts.

Tilton, Deputy Superintendent of Schools, New Jerusalem School District, is a former administrator with SJCOE and co-founded the nationally renowned “one.” program at SCJOE with Founts in the 1990s.

 “Ever since Mick and (former SJCOE Superintendent) Rick Wentworth hired me in 1992, I wanted to one day be the SJCOE superintendent,” said Tilton, who was raised in Manteca and attended Manteca schools. “Those two, especially Mick, molded me into the professional that I am today. It is truly a “pay-it-forward” moment for those two and all of the educators who made a difference in my life.”

 Tilton has a long history of creating innovative programs for students, including authoring and founding three charter schools while serving at the Stanislaus County Office of Education. He also founded Delhi High School. His career started at his alma mater, Manteca High School, as an English teacher and football, wrestling, and baseball coach from 1987-92. He then joined the SJCOE soon after Wentworth was elected. After a stint in building the Delhi Educational Park – a 7-adult joint county-school district project, working as an administrator in Sonoma County’s largest high school, and then joining the Stanislaus COE, Tilton worked nearly 10 years with schools throughout nation via the non-profit Northwest Evaluation Association. He returned to San Joaquin County in 2012 to join Superintendent David Thoming and New Jerusalem School District, the fastest growing district in San Joaquin County.

“One of my principles is to make a difference for kids – directly,” said Tilton, “not by sitting in an office and chasing grants and writing policy. A true educational leader, as I learned from Founts, is one who is active, one who is student-centered, and one who cares.”

Tilton’s family roots run deep in Manteca. While at Manteca High, he played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. He was also in student government. He graduated in 1979. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Stanislaus (he played college football both at Delta College and Humboldt State – he was injured during a game at the latter).

His parents – his father, Carl, was a businessman, and his mother, Dorothy, was a teacher’s aide at Lincoln Elementary – now live in Ripon. His sister, former Miss Manteca Paula Tilton Lewis, as well as his brother, Ron (he is the husband of Manteca City Clerk Joan Tilton), still make their home in the Family City. Oldest brother Dave, a writer and musician, lives in Vallejo. Tilton and wife Shalice are the parents of two grown children.

In the past decade prior to joining the New Jerusalem Elementary School District in Tracy, Tilton also was an adjunct faculty at Portland State University, University of San Diego, and Chapman University in Orange, Calif., in addition to being an adjunct faculty supervisor for Grand Canyon University of Phoenix, Ariz.