The Merced Union High School District has named two new principals, each a graduate of Atwater High School.
The board of trustees appointed Jon Schaefer to lead Merced High and Lee Shaw to oversee El Capitan High on unanimous votes during a special meeting Tuesday.
Ralph Calderon, an assistant superintendent for the district, said the new principals have held a number of teaching, administrative and other positions in area high schools. “I think that we’re lucky to be able to grow our own campus leaders,” he said.
Schaefer, 44, said he’s worked in the district for 18 years. He taught English at Merced High before becoming an associate principal at the school.
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The last three years, he’s been principal at Sequoia High School, the alternative school that shares a campus with Yosemite High. He said being selected for the new position is bittersweet.
It hurts my heart to leave Sequoia, but being part of the Bear family is ultimately what I wanted to do.
Jon Schaefer, who will head Merced High
“It hurts my heart to leave Sequoia, but being part of the Bear family is ultimately what I wanted to do,” he said, referring to Merced High’s mascot.
Schaefer, who graduated from Atwater High in 1990, attended Merced College and earned his English degree from California State University, Stanislaus. His teaching credential is from Chapman University and his master’s degree is from CSU Stanislaus.
Preparing students for college or a career is the focus of the district, Schaefer said, and he wants to carry out that goal at the school. “My goal is, collaboratively with staff and students, to determine what’s working well and what needs adjusting,” he said.
Merced High’s previous principal, John Olson, began his new job in January as the district’s assistant superintendent for business services/chief business officer.
El Capitan’s Shaw taught English and coached soccer at Golden Valley High School before moving up to an administrative position. The 50-year-old most recently has been an associate principal at El Capitan, and spoke highly of the staff and students.
“We have a really awesome staff here. They’re forward thinking and hard working,” he said. “They’ve got a clear love for kids.”
We have a really awesome staff here. They’re forward thinking and hard working. They’ve got a clear love for kids.
Lee Shaw, El Capitan High’s new principal
While at Golden Valley High, he said, he started the Intervention Program, which partners freshmen with older students to do social activities.
Shaw also spoke highly of the district. “We’re way ahead of other districts,” he said. “(Being a principal) is just a good opportunity and a great privilege.”
Originally from England, Shaw moved back and forth a few times, but graduated from Atwater High in 1983. He’s been in the U.S. consistently since 2000 and worked in the district since 2004.
His bachelor’s degree in English, credentials and master’s all came from CSU Stanislaus.
The first principal to serve the new campus, Anthony Johnson, took a job out of the area, according to district officials.