San Dieguito board honors the memory of Joyce Dalessandro

Joyce Dalessandro
Joyce Dalessandro, right, hugs drama teacher Marinee Payne at the opening of the new Torrey Pines performing arts center in 2019.
(Karen Billing)

At the Jan. 11 meeting, the San Dieguito Union High School District board held a moment of silence for Joyce Dalessandro, who passed away on Dec. 29 at age 74. Dalessandro, who served the district as a trustee for 24 years before stepping down in 2020, had fought an aggressive form of brain cancer since May 2021.

She had a big heart for students, admired teachers and often expressed how much she loved her job as a trustee.

Before joining the school board Dalessandro was a founding member of the Torrey Pines High School Foundation,where her two daughters attended school, and a longtime member of the Torrey Pines High School Scholarship Fund. As a trustee, she worked with five superintendents and oversaw the growth of the district including the opening of Carmel Valley Middle School, Canyon Crest Academy, Pacific Trails Middle, as well as many improvements districtwide made possible by Prop AA. She was thrilled to finally open the long-awaited performing arts center at Torrey Pines in 2019.

Described once as “the epitome of a dedicated public servant” in her last year on the school board in 2020, Dalessandro was recognized as “School Board Member of the Year” by the Association of California School Administrators and San Diego County School Boards Association. Redbook Magazine also honored her for her volunteerism in 1994.

“She deserved to be recognized even more just for the level of dedication and passion that she brought to this often difficult job,” Clerk Melisse Mossy said. “We didn’t always agree with different things that we voted on but I always found her to be intelligent and witty. She was very funny.

“It’s so hard to say goodbye to her.”

Joyce, who lived in Del Mar, is survived by her husband of 52 years John, two daughters and sons-in-law and six grandchildren.

A memorial scholarship fund will be set up in her name at the Torrey Pines High School Scholarship Foundation. Donations can be made at