Cruickshank principal moves up to district

Merced City Schools names new director of programs

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJune 22, 2013 

— Elena Castro, principal of Cruickshank Middle School, has been named the Merced City School District's new director of curriculum and categorical programs.

Castro's appointment was ratified Tuesday night by the district board of education. She replaces Sandi Hamilton, who is retiring at the end of July.

During an hourlong meeting, the board also approved spending $234,819 with 10 vendors to buy instructional supplies for the 2013-14 school year.

Castro has been Cruickshank principal for five years, was principal at Stefani School for one year and spent a year directing the combined Stefani-Franklin schools before they split.

"I'm really excited as I continue to learn, grow and serve," Castro said. "I've got a lot of things to learn, but I promise to make the district really, really proud."

Castro said she is responsible for the district's accountability in using state-federal categorical funding as it is intended.

She must file consolidated applications with the state in June, October and January and will be working with parents and school site administrators.

Castro's other job duties include assisting with staff development as the district adopts Common Core standards and starts using new technology in presenting curriculum.

Castro, 44, was a Merced Police Department 911 operator-dispatcher for about nine years. She said she wanted to be in a proactive rather than a reactive role, leading her to pursue a career in education.

She received her bachelor's degree in social science from Chapman University. She earned a master's degree in administration of education along with a teaching credential from California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock.

She attended Franklin, Burbank and Rivera schools before going to Merced High School and then Merced College.

"There are going to be big, big shoes to fill," Castro said. "I love my job at Cruickshank and am going out on a high. But these opportunities don't come up often, and I can serve in a different way."

Before coming to the Merced City School District, Castro was an assistant principal for 1½ years at Osborn Elementary School in Turlock and an associate principal at Brown Elementary School, also in Turlock, for a year.

She served as categorical programs manager at Merced High School and taught Spanish there for three years.

Greg Spicer, associate superintendent for administrative services, said the spending on instructional supplies is fairly similar to past years.

The district will be buying copy paper, pencils, record books, crayons, paint, construction paper, laminating film, pens, staplers and rubber bands.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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