Yosemite Unified School District recently announced two new principals: Randy Seals for Yosemite High School and Cindy Simons for Rivergold Elementary School.
"The school board and I are both very excited to make these individuals part of our leadership team," said Superintendent Jim Sargent. "These are really important positions for our district, and we are really excited we have such quality people. We searched thoroughly through a large number of quality applicants."
Simons served as interim principal this semester, after Principal Al Nocciolo retired for medical reasons.
Current YHS Principal Ed Vanhoose plans to relocate out of the area for professional and personal reasons.
"It's been an absolute pleasure serving the entire Yosemite Unified School District and working at Yosemite High School as an assistant principal, and then as site principal for the last six years," Vanhoose said. "I've been very fortunate to be a part of a very supportive community, wonderful students, and a very dedicated staff to do what's in the best interest of our young adults as they prepare to enter the world of work and post secondary opportunities."
New YHS Principal Randy Seals has worked as assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at Chowchilla High School for the past seven years. This is his 20th year working full-time in education.
"When I began my career in education, one location was my dream location, and that was Yosemite High School," Seals said. "Coming up the hill and being able to join the Badgers is really a dream come true."
Seals was introduced to the area as a child, vacationing with his family at their cabin in Sugar Pine.
At Chowchilla High, he also taught physical education, economics, civics, reading, English, world history and U.S. history, and health and fitness. He also served as head football and baseball coach, athletic director, categorical programs director, and department chair for history and math.
He received a master's degree in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Texas, Arlington; a bachelor's degree in history with a minor in English from UC Davis; and an associate degree from Modesto Junior College.
Seals said Yosemite High was always seen as the "standard bearers" -- the school that other schools want to outperform in education and athletics."We don't have to take a backseat to anybody and we won't," he said.
Seals, 45, is also the father of four: Samantha (who will attend Fresno State this fall), Cooper (going into his sophomore year of high school), Luke (going into second grade), and 1-year-old Adam.
His wife Kelli is a math teacher and the student activities director at Chowchilla High, and the family plans to relocate between Chowchilla and Oakhurst soon.
"One of the things we were looking for is someone with a lot of experience at the secondary level, and he so obviously has a track record as a leader," Sargent said of Seals.
New Rivergold Elementary School Principal Cindy Simons has worked at the school since its opening in 1991 and served as interim principal this semester.
She taught kindergarten for 20 years at Rivergold, and started teaching 24 years ago at Coarsegold Elementary School. She started filling in as principal in the 2000s, when the school went through seven principals in five years.
"Working as principal now is a time of service for me, so I can give back for the wonderful 24 years of teaching I've had with my best friends," Simons said. "I can help so many more children as principal, and my hope is to give kids the tools they need to be successful adults."
"She obviously has a passion for Rivergold and a commitment to Rivergold and a great deal of experience there," Sargent said. "And there was just a tremendous amount of support from the community and staff for her ... for what she has already done there, and what she can do."
For the past 17 years, Simons has also been the school's leadership coordinator who did all rallies, the student body adviser, and leadership elective teacher for Rivergold's middle schoolers.
She said she wants to help return Rivergold to a distinguished school ranking, and help teachers get the support they need with the implementation of the new "common core" state standards of teaching.
She lives in Friant with husband Gary. The couple have three grown children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Simons received an administrative credential and master's degree in administration from Fresno Pacific University, and a bachelor's degree in liberal studies with an emphasis in early childhood education from Fresno State.
"We are here for kids, and not just academics -- also the physical, mental and social aspects -- the total child," Simons said of Rivergold."We have dedicated teachers, but we also have dedicated parents and the kids we have been able to teach ... I just come to school every day thinking, 'I have been blessed.'"