Two principals take administrative jobs with Merced City School District

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJuly 15, 2013 

Two Merced school principals have been elevated to key administrative positions within the Merced City School District.

In their new roles, they will be dealing with student attendance, discipline, testing, adoption of new instructional standards and staff development.

Doug Collins, Hoover Middle School principal, has been named the director of pupil services. Paula Heupel, Donn B. Chenoweth School principal, is the new director of curriculum and categorical programs.

Both promotions were approved by the Board of Education.

Greg Spicer, associate superintendent of administrative services, said both positions haven't been filled for several years because of funding constraints. With the pair on board, the district will see an immediate improvement in finding ways to help teach at-risk, challenged students.

Collins, 38, has been Hoover principal since August 2009 and previously was principal at Sheehy Elementary School and Tenaya Middle School. Before that, he was an assistant principal at Tenaya Middle School and spent four years as director of student activities at Golden Valley High School.

"There are many challenges in line with new state legislation about student attendance and discipline," Collins said.

"The goal is to increase student attendance across the district. There are multiple layers of intervention and the goal is to keep students in school and in class as much as possible," he said.

Heupel, 47, has been Chenoweth School principal since July 2009 and was the assistant principal at Cruickshank and Rivera schools for two years before that. She was the district's mathematics coordinator for more than four years.

"I'm excited for our district, and the support teachers and site administrators are going to receive from our administrative team," Heupel said. "As we move into a new era of education, technology will take a primary role for delivery of education."

Spicer said he directed special education and pupil services for three years and the job was too big for one person.

"You need two people to do this," Spicer said. "These are really important positions for us to move forward. There were not enough hands on deck."

Spicer cited state mandates that students be kept in school rather than suspended and their problems be remedied rather than pushed aside. He said a considerable amount of work will be required for the district to implement common core instructional practices and prepare for changes in state testing procedures.

"I believe all students can learn and excel," Collins said. "My goal is to be a collaborative leader who creates a fun and inviting environment to work, a place that is single-mindedly focused on student achievement."

Heupel said a big transition is in store as common core instructional practices are instituted. Testing assessments will be much more comprehensive.

Collins has a master's degree in educational administration from Chapman University and a bachelor's degree in social science from Azusa Pacific University. He started his educational career as a teacher of social sciences, life sciences and biology in West Covina.

Heupel has master's degrees in applied cognition and school library media from Fresno Pacific University and a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from California State University, Fresno.

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

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