Dr. Ruben
Dr. Ruben Zepeda II October 7, 1960 - March 6, 2020 Dr. Ruben Zepeda II, Superintendent of Schools for the Keppel Union School District and resident of Palmdale, CA, died unexpectedly on March 6, 2020, at the age of 59. In Dr. Zepeda’s 34 years in public education, his achievements were many; his primary focus was to improve student achievement and to promote student’s social and emotional wellness. His life was dedicated to the students and their parents advocating for high-quality public education. His motto was, “Take a stand and have a backbone for kids!” Dr. Ruben Zepeda II was born in Covina, California. He graduated from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) with his bachelor’s degree in 1984. In 2005, he attained his Doctorate in Education from the University of Sothern California (USC). Dr. Zepeda’s professional career in education began in 1985 as a middle school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), where he taught history. During his stay at LAUSD, he took a position at Grant High School as a history and government teacher and coached football and softball. He worked in the Language Acquisition Bilingual Development Branch in the Office of Instruction as a curriculum advisor working to ensure that English-language learners had access to the grade-level curriculum they needed. In 2001, he led a team of university scholars and teachers in the development of the Cesar E. Chavez Model Curriculum for the California Department of Education. The resulting project was a collaborative effort with the Chavez family and the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation. The curriculum included grade-level appropriate biographies of Cesar Chavez as well as lesson plans for teachers. In May 2005, Dr. Zepeda was appointed to serve as an assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson High School after the school experienced three large scale student fights and disruptions. Dr. Zepeda worked with the administration, teachers, parents, and students to restore a focus on student learning. The result was the establishment of small learning communities, including Creative Arts and Expression (CAE). Dr. Zepeda joined Chino Valley Unified School District in 2006 as Director of Secondary Curriculum Instruction and Assessment. With the growing challenges of the No Child Left Behind accountably, he was appointed to the position of Director of Assessment and Evaluation. Primarily he was responsible for the development of K-12 benchmark assessments to help move the district towards a data-driven decision-making system and to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs. In July 2010, Dr. Zepeda became the Principal at Vasquez High School at Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District in Acton, California. Two years later, in 2012, he joined the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and took the position of Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Monterey, California. In Monterey he was able to gain the experience and knowledge which led him to his next calling as the Superintendent of Schools at Aromas-San Juan Unified School District in July 2014 in the city of San Juan Bautista, California. In 2016 Dr. Zepeda made his way back to the place he called home in Palmdale, California, and was hired by the Keppel Union School District as the Superintendent of Schools, Chief Instructional Officer, and Secretary to the Board of Trustees in Pearblossom, California. Dr. Zepeda was able to accomplish positive measures for the Keppel Union School District and the community. He established the district’s own student transportation service and bus depot along with creating a wellness Center for the district at Lake Los Angeles School, projected to open in late April of 2020. In the summer of 1978 at the age of 16, Dr. Zepeda found his biggest supporter, best friend, and the love of his life at a leadership camp at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). At the time, Ruben Zepeda II was the ASB President at Cerritos High School, and Sarah Angelina Magaña was the ASB President at North Torrance High School, both located in California. Ruben and Sarah were married in July 1984 after completing their college degrees. The Zepeda’s developed an unwavering love for one another. Their relationship was built upon a foundation of trust, family, service to others, and deep faith in God. Dr. Zepeda is survived by his wife Dr. Sarah Magaña Zepeda; his Mother Martha Zepeda; Brother Gilbert Zepeda, wife Julianne and Sister Maria Merchant, husband Stephen. He has five Nieces and four Nephews and one Great Niece. Dr. Zepeda is predeceased by his Father Ruben Zepeda Sr. He is also survived by the hundreds of students he dedicated himself to over the last 34 years. Not to mention all the children who will not have the opportunity to know the person Dr. Zepeda was, and what he stood for. But fortunately, they will be able to benefit from what he was able to accomplish in the short time he was with us. Because of the foundation both Dr. Ruben Zepeda and Dr. Sarah Magaña Zepeda built their life and relationship upon there are two Funeral Services scheduled. On Saturday, March 14, 2020, at St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church in Torrance at 12 noon. St. Catherine Laboure is the church where the Zepeda’s were married in 1984. St. Catherine is located at: 3846 Redondo Beach Blvd. Torrance, CA 90504 On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale at 4 pm. St. Mary’s is the church where the Zepeda’s would attend mass. St. Mary’s Catholic Church is located at: 1600 E. Avenue R-4 Palmdale, CA 93550. Dr. Sarah Magaña Zepeda has requested the attendees to wear something in yellow or red. These were her husbands' favorite colors. In lieu of flowers, Dr. Sarah Magaña Zepeda asks for you to bring a new children’s book to the service. The books will be collected and be imprinted with “In Memory of Dr. Ruben Zepeda II”. The books will then be distributed throughout the Keppel Union School District. For those unable to attend the services, new children’s books can be sent to: Dr. Sarah Zepeda c/o Dos Caminos School 39066 Palm Tree Way Palmdale, CA 93551

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  1. My deepest condolences to the Zepeda family. My heart breaks for you Sarah as you travel through these difficult times. I have fond memories of you and Ruben, so much love for one another and for the students whom you serve so well. Mahalo nui Ruben for loving children.

  2. Dearest Sarah,
    My deepest condolences to you. I am honored to have been your flower girl and will always remember how both of you inspired me to be an educator. Ruben’s journey is truly an inspiration to all and I know many students were touched by him whether they knew him personally or not. Lots of love and hugs to you during this difficult time.

  3. Dearest Sarah,
    I’m reading this and seeing this for the first time with tears streaming down my face. Mr. Zepeda was my beloved teacher at Millikan and then at Grant. He taught me to love history so much that I majored in it at UCLA. He taught us kindness and patience and each of his students were his children. He bestowed on us all a love of learning. He will forever be in my thoughts.

  4. Extending condolences to the Zepeda Family. I worked with Ruben at Jefferson High School. Rest In Peace my dear friend. It was a pleasure knowing you.

  5. Dear Sarah,
    I just received an email from Maria (Merchant) about Ruben’s passing. I am very sorry for your loss. Ruben was like my big brother, as I spent most of my jr. high and high school years in the Zepeda family home. I remember attending his college graduation from UCLA with mayor Tom Bradley prevailing over the ceremony. I remember you worked in the garment district, where Maria got all of her cool clothes…59 years is so young to pass- I suppose they needed him more in heaven than here on earth. I’m sure he’s in good hands with his father and namesake. Be well, and god bless.

  6. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Ruben was someone I am proud to have known. We pushed each other so hard on the football field. He practice hard as if we were in a game. He never let anyone slack off. He pushed me to be my best. He never backed down from a challenge. May he Rest In Peace.

  7. I forever will see his smile and his glow back at Cerritos High…though i graduated in 1975 and admired him and his brother Gilbert and sister Maria…Gilbert ran like the wind at Gahr and Ruben was an intelligent man with a sunny smile and a glow as Gilbert before him and Maria if my memory serves me…
    GOD needed a light and Ruben came to serve…My sincere Love and prayers to his family as i too am very saddened to hear this news and first and foremost I ask GOD to bless his family Please !!

  8. As I only knew Ruben from high school i can recall his enthusiasm and passion during those years. It seems those traits carried on in his life. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. I’m glad to have known you Ruben.

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