Michael Merrill, the principal at Calaveras High School, has been selected to become superintendent of Summerville Union High School District.
Outgoing Summerville Superintendent Robert Griffith announced the selection in a press release sent out late Friday afternoon.
He could not be reached for further comment.
The news release said Merrill’s hiring would be formally approved at the June 27 school board meeting. He will start work on July 16. He will be paid $155,000 a year, board chairman Randy Richter said.
Merrill, 52, said he was moved to apply for the job after a quarter century at Calaveras, beginning as a science teacher, because of the quality of the district.
“And it’s still in the MLL (Mother Lode League), which has a big part of my heart,” he said. “It’s a very, very comfortable school, a great school.”
Mark Campbell, superintendent at Calaveras Unified School District, said Merrill’s decision to leave Calaveras High will come as a shock to people in the community.
“It opens a huge gap,” Campbell said. “People are going to feel like I did, extremely sad to see him go but extremely excited for him.”
Campbell said Merrill will make a phenomenal superintendent.
“He has tremendous people skills,” he said.
Merrill is a natural leader who cares for students and staff alike, Campbell said.
Asked for an example of Merrill’s leadership methods, Campbell said what came to mind first was seeing him at graduation recently when he hugged every single graduate.
Merrill has been the type or principal who attended most every game, play, choir performance the school put on.
He grew up in the Stockton area, attended Lincoln High School and once he graduated from University of California, Davis, with a science degree, went back to Lincoln to teach. He hold a master’s degree in administration from National University.
Merrill has served as assistant principal, assistant superintendent of fiscal services and then the last eight years as principal. He also worked a four-year stretch as principal of Valley Springs Elementary.
He and his wife, Rhonda, a history teacher at Calaveras, live in Angels Camp. They have two grown children.
Calaveras is a bigger school – 885 students – than Summerville, which has 432 in the high school and 225 in Connections Visual and Performing Arts Academy, which also has 7 th and 8 th grade students.
Both schools have high marks from California education data on graduation rates and have about the same number of students on free and reduced lunch.
Merrill said the schools have more similarities than differences. He also said he intends to listen and learn and build on the accomplishments that came before him.
A former football and track coach, Merrill said he’s now firmly a Bear and will proudly wear orange and black.
“I’ve got to get a new wardrobe,” he said. All his polo shirts say Calaveras. He intends to give them to students who need them.
Richter, the board chair, quipped that the board needs to look around on Amazon for a black and orange tie for him.
Richter said the board was drawn to Merrill because he knows the area and his long tenure at Calaveras suggests he wants to stay.
“He is someone who understands our type of school,” Richter said.
The news release from Griffith said, “The Board of Education made its decision with input gathered from key stakeholder groups in the district regarding the qualities desired in the next district leader.”
He said parents, staff, and community members had expressed the desire to find a “collaborative, energetic leader.”
Campbell said Merrill embodies those traits, as seen in the way he works with staff and students.
“He’s really in his element then,” Campbell said. “I see that translating into working well with board members and the community.”
Griffith served as superintendent for five years and announced his retirement on April 11 to spend more time with family.
Also, Summerville High School Principal Diana Harford is leaving to take the job of director of school and district support with the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office.
Contact Lyn Riddle at email@example.com or 209-588-4541.