Turlock High School students will welcome a new principal come fall, following the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees’ decision to appoint Gabe Ontiveros to replace current principal Marie Russell, who is slated to take on a new position aimed at improving communication among all stakeholders throughout the District.
Russell was appointed the interim principal of Turlock High in January 2013 after former principal Dana Salles Trevethan, who is now the TUSD Superintendent, first moved over to the District Office as the interim Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services. Russell became the official principal that summer.
“Dana and I have worked closely together ever since I left the classroom to become a counselor at THS back in 2001,” said Russell. “She encouraged me to pursue my administrative credential and in 2004 I was hired by her as first a Dean of Student Counseling at THS and then a year later as an Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction. When Dana became Superintendent I had a feeling it wouldn’t be long before she came calling again.”
During her time as principal, Russell worked towards improving and modernizing the Turlock High campus, building the leadership capacity of existing teachers and hiring new outstanding candidates. She has also supported a diverse number of courses and programs for students, including Advanced Placement, Career Technical Education, NJROTC and fine and performing arts.
“Every time I hear about a student getting accepted to college or furthering their training in a high demand CTE industry, or joining the military, I am thankful for the wonderful opportunities our students have at THS to pursue such varied interests,” said Russell. “I hope I have played a small role in helping keep these options open for our students.”
As a former Bulldog herself, Russell said that she considered it an honor to work with the staff and students at Turlock High.
“As anyone in education will tell you, the best part is always the students, but our staff is a close second as it truly was a joy to come to work every day,” said Russell. “I will greatly miss THS and the folks I have worked with the past 20 years.”
During their meeting on Tuesday, trustees approved Russell for the new position, as well as named Ontiveros as her successor. Ontiveros is currently the principal at eCademy Charter at Crane.
As the Chief Communication Coordinator, Russell will “lead transformational work to establish a well-defined communications program for TUSD by employing current best practices and a variety of communication tools to inform, engage, and connect stakeholders” throughout TUSD. Among other responsibilities, Russell will also be in charge of managing and growing TUSD’s online presence and working to assist in providing the community and District employees with easily accessible information regarding schools, programs and services.
Also on Tuesday, trustees voted to approve Dave Lattig as the Career Technical Education and Program Equity Director. Lattig, who is currently the principal of Turlock Adult School, will be responsible for managing, directing and supervising the District’s CTE program. He will also work to “ensure the development and delivery of career and technical education curriculum and instructional program is effective and efficient, incorporates District goals and vision, supports student achievement and real-world experiences and provides college and career development opportunities for students.” Current vice principal Linda Alaniz take over the position of principal.
Trevethan said that these “significant and exciting changes,” will utilize the strength of District leaders, as well as underline the direction of TUSD’s Local Control Accountability Plan and the LCAP steering committee, which took into account the input of nearly 2,000 stakeholders. According to Trevethan, all changes in assignments, including new titles and promotions, will go into effect on July 1.
“These changes will afford TUSD the opportunity to further our commitment to career and technical education, stronger communication and meeting the needs of all students and staff,” said Trevethan.
Tuesday’s meeting also marked the second-to-last for Trustee Jennifer Carter, who during the Feb. 9 meeting announced her intent to resign early due to a job change. Carter said that her last meeting will be May 2.
“I have been honored to be part of TUSD and the Turlock community and I want to thank staff, students and administration for having this be a very, very positive experience. I would honestly put this Board up against any other in the local area,” said Carter. “While we don’t always agree, but we are very compassionate and want to do what’s right for students and staff and I’ll miss it.”