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February 13, 2007 > Middle school principal promoted

Middle school principal promoted

Mireya Casarez, the popular longtime principal of Cesar Chavez Middle School, has been promoted for the 2007-08 school year to become principal of Conley-Caraballo High School, to replace founding principal Judy Silver, who is retiring.

Tracie Noriega, principal at Cabello Elementary School, which is closing at the end of the 2006-07 school year, will become principal at Alvarado Elementary in 2007-08, New Haven Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi also announced today. Ms. Noriega will replace Carmen Jorgenson, who plans to retire midway through 2007-08 and will work as a district literacy specialist during the first semester.

"When Judy Silver told us she planned to retire at the end of this year, frankly, I was concerned about how we would replace the principal who started that very special school and is really the heart and soul of Conley-Caraballo," Dr. Jaurequi said. "I can't imagine a better fit than Mireya Casarez, who has so much experience and ability."

Ms. Noriega is "the perfect and logical choice" to replace Mrs. Jorgenson at Alvarado Elementary, Dr. Jaurequi added.

"Everyone in the District has been impressed with the job Tracie has done as a first-year principal this year, in a very difficult situation," Dr. Jaurequi said. "With the closure of Cabello, a lot of Tracie's students will be attending Alvarado Elementary, and I expect several Cabello teachers will want to move there, too. It's a wonderful fit that I think the students, parents and staff at Alvarado will embrace."

Mireya Casarez grew up in New Haven, attending the old Decoto Elementary and Barnard Middle before graduating from James Logan High School. After college at St. Mary's, she returned to the District to teach at Barnard-White Middle School, where she later served as student activities director and as an assistant principal. One of the original
house principals at Logan, she became principal at Chavez in 1996.

Ms. Casarez is married to Jesus Varela, one of the house principals at Logan. They have two sons: Jesus, 21, and Alexis, 17, a junior at Logan.

The search process is under way for a new principal at Chavez.

At Conley-Caraballo, Ms. Casarez will replace a principal who performed what Dr. Jaurequi called "a minor miracle" last year, by opening the brand-new school only a few weeks after she was hired.

"New Haven will forever be in debt to Judy Silver, who not only succeeded in opening Conley-Caraballo and establishing it as a quality school, but did it under remarkable circumstances," Dr. Jaurequi said.

Conley-Caraballo, the District's continuation and alternative education high school, opened in August 2006, less than a year after it was conceived and less than two months after Mrs. Silver was hired when the original principal had to step down for health reasons.

Tracie Noriega, who grew up in Sacramento and graduated from California State University, Sacramento, joined New Haven in 1996, teaching kindergarten at Decoto Elementary and Emanuele Elementary. She became assistant principal at Hillview Crest Elementary in 2002 and assistant principal at Barnard-White Middle School in 2004.

She and her husband, Logan graduate Rene Noriega, have four children: son Bobby, 17, a senior at Logan; daughters Talissa, 9, and Taryn, 6, both students at Eastin Elementary; and son Ryan 4, who attends pre-school at Cabello.

She, too, will replace a popular and successful principal at Alvarado. Mrs. Jorgenson oversaw an impressive 42-point increase in the school's API (Academic Performance Index) score in 2006.

"Carmen could have remained principal through the middle of next year, but her selflessness gives us a chance to make both the closure of Cabello and the changes at Alvarado as smooth as possible," Dr. Jaurequi said. "At the same time, her first love is literacy, and she will be a tremendous help district-wide as we expand our emphasis on literacy next year."

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