Merced campuses get new leaders

Three positions filled by local district hires

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJuly 22, 2013 

— Three new principals were named late last week for Merced schools, following an executive session by the Merced City School District Board of Education.

Michelle Colburn will lead Hoover Middle School, while Jerod Garst is the new Luther Burbank School principal. Jill Settera becomes principal at Cruickshank Middle School.

Colburn, Garst and Settera replace principals Elena Castro, Doug Collins and Paula Heupel, who recently were promoted to district administrative positions.

"I am confident we selected the correct leaders," Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran said. "They are well-experienced, well-known and will do a great job."

Colburn, 47, replaces Collins at Hoover Middle School. She has been an assistant principal at Hoover for five years. Before that she taught sixth through eighth grade for four years at Our Lady of Mercy School, third and fourth grade at Franklin Elementary School for seven years and was a resource teacher for three years at Franklin School.

"I'm excited," Colburn said. "I know it definitely will be a learning curve, but I'm excited about what I bring to the school and the district."

Garst, 36, was the assistant principal for the last school year at Tenaya Middle School, and had been an assistant principal for three years at Rivera Middle School and three years at Tenaya Middle School before that. He taught a special day class for six years at Cruickshank Middle School and was an assistant principal there for half a year.

"The challenge will be to transition from middle school to elementary school," Garst said. "I'm excited to work with the staff at Burbank and face the challenge of a new school. I'm looking forward to it."

Garst was co-principal for the district's English language learners academy this summer.

Settera, 45, has been an assistant principal for four years at Cruickshank. She spent a year as a resource teacher at Joe Stefani School and 13 years teaching third through fifth grade at Stefani School.

"I'm excited and ready to take the next step in my administrative career," Settera said. "I'm delighted to serve the school and the Cruickshank family. I'm also looking forward to seeing how piloting of new technology goes."

Settera said her major focus is transitioning to common core instructional practices, which must be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year.

Colburn has a bachelor's degree in liberal studies and a master's degree in school administration, both from California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock.

Garst has a master's degree in special education from Chapman University and a bachelor's degree in physical education from Cal State Stanislaus.

Settera got her bachelor's degree in liberal studies from Cal State Stanislaus and is working on a master's degree.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at(209) 385-2407 or

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