Education / Schools

County Office of Education gets new assistant superintendent

Keith Thorbahn has a background in agricultural education.

With 27 years in education, Keith Thorbahn brings a wealth of experience to the San Benito County Office of Education in his role as assistant superintendent of educational services.

Coming from Ottawa County, Ohio, Thorbahn, 50, will provide leadership to fulfill the county office’s mission. He has held several administrative positions over the years, including being middle and high school principal and began his education career as a teacher of agriculture. He told BenitoLink he feels at home in San Benito County.

“The area that I have spent the majority of my career in education in Ohio was very similar to this county, rural in nature, agriculture was the backbone of the communities,” he said.

Thorbahn’s contract with the county began July 1 and is in effect until June 30, 2020. His annual salary with a Master’s degree stipend is $147,024 (Step H) and health benefits of $15,100.

Krystal Lomanto, the county superintendent of schools, said Thorbahn’s background in agricultural education made him a great fit.

“Keith will bring in an outside perspective,” she said. “He was the clear choice for us.”

Though the school districts in Ohio are K-12, Thorbahn said common core education is the same in California as it was there. 

“The districts can focus on a narrower band of students,” he said, referring to how K-12 administration is split between the Hollister School District and San Benito High School District.

Thorbahn believes involving kids in their education will keep them in school. He said he understands that not everyone learns at the same pace and that different backgrounds bring unique challenges and strengths to the learning experience. What happens at home comes into the classroom, he said. He believes in supporting students who might be falling behind.

“The stronger those support systems are and the quicker they are implemented, the greater the success of that student will be,” he said. 

The new assistant superintendent is working toward a 100% graduation rate. Of all his accomplishments, he is most proud of achieving this one year as a high school principal, and with San Benito’s already high graduation rate it could be done with “early intervention and making sure we are all one big family.” San Benito High School lists their graduation rate at 92% and Anzar High School lists theirs at 90%. 

“Anything is possible with enough focus and effort on the task at hand,” Thorbahn said.


Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.