CORCORAN – Corcoran High School is seeing a change in leadership this school year.
The Corcoran Unified School District has hired a new principal and assistant principal for the high school. The shift is a result of previous Principal Chuck Gent leaving to oversee Lemoore Middle College High School.
Former assistant principal Antonia Stone has taken over as chief while former teacher and coach J.J. Albert has accepted the assistant principal position.
“It’s been great so far,” Stone said. “I’ve gotten a lot of support from the staff, students and parents. I’m picking up where the previous principal left off and moving the school forward.”
Stone has been with the high school over the past ten years, originally as an English teacher. Stone later worked as a learning director and, most recently, an assistant principal.
“It’s fortunate that I’ve been here in the district for a while,” she said. “It’s been a smooth transition for me.”
Stone said it also helped that Gent wanted to prepare her for the position in case he left the school. She said he included her in special meetings, let her take a look at things he was working on as well as talked about his vision for the school.
“He did a great job preparing me, so there weren’t many surprises,” she said. “He kept me very much in the loop.”
Now, Stone said she wants to continue in the same direction Gent has set. Stone said she’s focusing on extending the project-based learning the school has been doing in alignment with the new Common Core standards, which began full implementation this year.
“We want to make sure project-based learning and technology remain priorities,” she said. “This is where we’re going with Common Core.”
Stone said she also wants to work on improving students’ California High School Exit Exam scores and making sure they’re college- and career-ready, one of the main goals of the new standards. She said making sure all students have access to technology is also a main priority.
“I want it to be known that all kids were given the right classes and opportunities,” she said. “If we can do that, I think that would be a pretty good legacy to leave behind.”
Albert said his experiences as an assistant principal have also been good so far. A Corcoran native, Albert graduated from the high school in 1997. Six years ago, he returned as a social studies teacher and basketball coach. He was promoted to a learning director two years ago.
“Even though I’m already familiar with the school, there’s still a learning curve,” Albert said. “I knew I was going to have to absorb some new responsibilities. It hasn’t been easy, but so far, so good.”
Albert said the biggest change for him has been getting used to not interacting with students in the classroom on a daily basis. As a teacher and coach, he was frequently surrounded by kids, so it’s been a big adjustment.
For Albert, making sure he can maintain a safe campus for students is a main priority. As part of that, he also wants to see the school continue to reduce its suspension rates, which have already decreased to 9.9 percent in the 2012-13 school year, according to the California Department of Education.
Albert said Stone set the bar really high during her time as assistant principal, which he hopes to maintain and carry forward. Albert intends to stay as coordinated as possible and make sure he knows all the programs and procedures necessary to make everything run efficiently.
“Luckily, I know the student population and what I’m working with,” he said. “They know what they’re going to get from me.”