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Twenty-four APS Schools Will Have New Principals

Posted July 2, 2024, 4:59 PM. Updated July 2, 2024, 4:59 PM.

Search underway for two more school leaders.

Albuquerque Public Schools has named new principals at two dozen schools in the district for the 2024-25 school year.

Thirteen elementary schools, eight middle schools, and three high schools have new principals. The hiring process is underway for two additional vacant principal positions.

"We're thrilled to welcome these individuals to their new schools," said APS Superintendent Gabriella Blakey. "We're confident they have the skills and experience necessary to be great school leaders."

Elementary schools

Melissa Sanchez, who has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 2001, is the new principal of Alameda Elementary School. She was the assistant principal at Painted Sky Elementary and recently the interim principal at Alameda. She advocates for all students, and with her extensive knowledge of students with disabilities, she is a powerful driving force in supporting this population. 

Michelle Tudor who had been Chaparral Elementary School's interim principal, is now the school's principal. She has been with the district since 2018 and is excited to continue the work her team has engaged in this year with AVID and Community Schools.  

Parisa Azgharzadeh, who had been assistant principal at Dolores Gonzales Elementary, is now the school's principal. Azgharzadeh has 20 years of experience in education.

Shayna Kagan is the new principal at Double Eagle Elementary School. She is no stranger to the school, having served as its assistant principal and more recently as its interim principal. Kagan has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 2014. She is an expert in reading instruction and firmly believes in supporting the whole child.

Angel Roman, who had been the interim principal at Hawthorne Elementary, is the new principal at Emerson Elementary School. He has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 2002. Roman is excited to continue the transformational work at Emerson.

Travis Tester, who had been the assistant principal at Hayes Middle School, is the new principal at Eugene Field Elementary School. He has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 2010. Tester is looking forward to working with the Eugene Field Community.  

Laura Chiang, who had been principal at Kennedy Middle School, is the new principal of Governor Bent Elementary School. She has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 2013. Chiang said she is looking forward to moving back to her elementary school roots. 

Melissa Chavers, who had been the interim principal at Governor Bent Elementary, is the new principal at Hawthorne Elementary School. She has over 15 years of education experience and has been with the district since 2001. Dedicated to Bilingual Education, Chavers is excited about working with her team in continuing and growing the Dual Language Program and engaging in the work that has taken place over the past eight years.   

Tonya McCullough, who had been assistant principal at Hodgin Elementary, is now the school's principal. McCullough has over 20 years of experience in education and is excited to lead the school and champion the APS Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing program.  

Adam Dodge is the new principal at Hubert Humphrey Elementary School. He is new to the district but has over 25 years of experience in education. He is excited to get started in serving his new community of learners and staff. 

Renee Gallegos, who had been principal at Emerson Elementary, is the new principal at Lew Wallace Elementary School. She has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 1995. Gallegos is looking forward to learning about the wonderful projects the school is working on. 

Mary Salazar, who had been principal at Lew Wallace Elementary, is the new principal at Sandia Base Elementary SchoolShe has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 2001 and is ready to take on her new challenge.  

Dr. Robert Sims Jr., who has over 25 years of experience in education, is the new principal at Whittier Elementary SchoolHe is new to the district. Dr. Sims has met with his staff and is pumped up and ready to take on the work alongside his staff, students and community. 

Middle schools

JoJo Grano, who had been assistant principal at Desert Ridge Middle, is the school's new principal. She has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 2008 and has been at Desert Ridge Middle for 16 years in total from teacher, math department head, and assistant principal. She believes in using a leverage relationship-based, data-driven instructional leadership to foster a school environment of academic rigor while still infusing joy and fun into the learning experience. 

Jessica Adviento Mackey, who had been assistant principal at Grant Middle School, is now principal at Harrison Middle School. She discovered her passion for individualized education and community engagement early in her career. The opportunity to return and give back to the community that shaped her as an educator fills her with immense excitement. Having dedicated the first eight years of her career to serving the South Valley community, she has cultivated a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by students and families. Harrison has its own rich traditions as a school and she is committed to continuing these traditions, which have made the school a cornerstone of the community.

Michelle Velasquez, who had been interim principal at Jimmy Carter Middle, is now the school's principal. She has served the district as a teacher and administrator since 2012. Velasquez aims to make a more significant impact in student lives by inspiring educators to develop personally and professionally. She takes pride in her ability to communicate effectively with staff, students, parents, and community members to establish a school culture focused on equity, kindness, academic perseverance, and advanced critical thinking abilities. 

Seth Shapiro, who had been assistant principal at Kennedy Middle School, is now the school's principal. Over the past two years as the assistant principal at Kennedy, he has worked closely with staff, students, families, community members, and district departments in order to collaboratively support the learning, growth, safety, and well-being of every Kennedy student. Together, they have celebrated triumphs, mourned painful losses, navigated unexpected crises, and been inspired daily by the dedication, resilience, and heart of Kennedy’s students and staff.

Crystal Avalos, who had been assistant principal at Taft Middle School, is now the school's principal. She previously served as the principal of Governor Bent Elementary for two years and had also been the assistant principal at Osuna/SY Jackson for two years. She is excited to start the new school year as principal of Taft.

Ana Sanchez, who has been with APS since 2002, is the new principal at Tony Hillerman Middle SchoolShe has served as principal of Alvarado Elementary for two years and Mitchell Elementary for the last eight years.  Sanchez is excited and motivated to start this next chapter of her professional career at Tony Hillerman. 

Michelle Armijo, who spent the past seven years as the principal at Tony Hillerman Middle School, is now principal at Truman Middle School.  As principal at Tony Hillerman, Armijo raised academic achievement and incorporated the WIN (what I need) block and the AVID college and career readiness program. At Truman, she plans to continue the work of the AVID Site Team in maintaining the TMS as an AVID National Demonstration School. She is excited to work alongside the Dual Language staff as they prepare students to complete the requirement of the bilingual seal and continue the success of a nationally recognized Dual Language program. 

Moises Padilla, who had been a teacher at Taft Middle School, is now principal at Van Buren Middle School. He has over 20 years of experience in education and believes in education as a change agent to help remove systemic barriers for children and their families. He believes schools can be transformed through high expectations, college and career preparation, cultural relevance, and continuous improvement. 

High Schools

Anthony Lovato is the new principal at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School. Lovato has a deep connection to the community and a wealth of experience within APS. He graduated from Rio Grande High School and grew up just six miles from the Atrisco Heritage campus. He has served APS in various administrative roles, including dean of students, assistant principal at Valley High School, principal at Mountain View Elementary, and principal at Taft Middle School. He is also no stranger to Atrisco Heritage, as he helped open the school in 2008-2009 as a health/PE teacher and head baseball coach for five years.

Julie Sanchez, a veteran Albuquerque Public Schools administrator, is the new principal at eCADEMY High School. Sanchez has nearly 30 years of experience in education, having started her career as a teacher at Susie Rayos Marmon Elementary School in 1995. She has been an assistant principal at La Cueva High School and has served as an associate director of athletics, a coordinator of athletics, a dean of students, and an activities director. Since 2021, she has been a special projects coordinator for emergency response, helping schools navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, helping to launch a school safety platform at more than 140 schools.

Maurice Guerin is the new principal at La Cueva High School. Guerin comes from Rio Rancho Public Schools. where he was principal at Mountain View Middle School. During his tenure, he was responsible for approximately 1,000 students and over 100 staff members. His leadership was instrumental in enhancing communication among teachers, staff, parents, and the community, ensuring a cohesive and positive school culture. Guerin also served as vice principal at Rio Rancho High from 2019 to 2022. There, he shared administrative responsibilities for nearly 2,800 students and 230 employees and maintained high standards for student and staff performance.