New leadership taking charge at Merced area high schools

Lance Morrow, 52, is the new principal at Buhach Colony High School in Atwater.
Lance Morrow, 52, is the new principal at Buhach Colony High School in Atwater. BRIANNA CALIX /

Merced Union High School District is set to start the new school year next week with a roster of principals that includes some new faces.

One of the new additions to the administrative team is Lance Morrow, who is taking charge at Buhach Colony High in Atwater.

Morrow, 52, comes to Buhach from Ripon High School, where he was the principal for eight years. He’s been in education since 1990, when he started as a math teacher in Stockton’s Lincoln Unified. He’s held multiple associate principal, principal and coaching positions in San Joaquin County schools and in the Bay Area.

Morrow earned his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness at California State University, Chico; his teaching credential in math at California State University, Stanislaus; and his master’s degree at University of La Verne.

At Buhach, Morrow plans to focus on the new “three Rs” – rigor, relevance and relationships.

“More rigor doesn’t necessarily mean more work,” he said. “It’s how you go about things, the questions you’re asking and the types of activities you have for students.”

Morrow said it’s important to keep learning relevant to students’ current lives and what they’ll experience in the future. And, the relationships built among students, staff and the community facilitate learning, he said.

“It’s important to prepare kids for whatever is going to be their next step,” he said.

Buhach’s former principal, Steven Hobbs, now is the principal at the district’s adult school.

District officials are pleased to have their hiring mostly done before the 2016-17 school year begins, with some shuffling in administrators and the addition of about 60 teachers, said Ralph Calderon, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources.

“It’s a great big relief to have all our administrative teams in place,” Calderon said. “Last year at this time we were still looking to fill spots.”

All of the new administrators went through an interview process that included a panel of students, parents, classified staff and more, Calderon said.

Merced and El Capitan high schools also will be starting the school year with new principals. Lee Shaw will head El Capitan, and Jon Schaefer will lead Merced.

Several high schools also have new associate principals. Bob Valladao will work as an associate principal of 10th-12th grades and attendance at Atwater High after nine years of being the school’s head football coach and a business teacher. At Merced High, Shane Smith is a new addition to the administration as an associate principal. And at El Capitan, David Rogers will be the new associate principal of discipline for ninth and 11th grades.

The first day of school for all Merced Union High School District campuses is Aug. 15.

Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477