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Assistant principal chosen to lead Mandela school

April 13, 2019 GMT

Santa Fe Public Schools has chosen a new leader for Mandela International Magnet School from within its ranks.

Assistant Principal Randy Grillo, who also serves as the school’s International Baccalaureate program coordinator and Spanish teacher, will take over as principal July 1, the district announced Friday.

Grillo’s promotion follows the departure of Ahlum Scarola, who has accepted the position of head of school at the private Rio Grande School.

Grillo taught Spanish and English at Santa Fe High School for eight years and then spent two years teaching Spanish at Monte del Sol Charter School before moving to Mandela ahead of the current school year.

“I’m going to miss the day-to-day community that one builds inside a classroom,” he said. “But I have realized that as a principal, you can build a strong community between adults, which translates to the students in the classroom.”

Mandela opened in 2014 on the campus of De Vargas Middle School — a facility that was razed to make way for construction of a new home for Milagro Middle School — and moved to the former Academy at Larragoite building on Agua Fría Street ahead of the 2017-18 school year.

After founder Tony Gerlicz retired from the principal’s job in the summer of 2017, Superintendent Veronica García hired Benjamin Hairgrove of Texas, who lasted one semester. García replaced Hairgrove with Scarola for the 2018 spring semester.

While Grillo will be the school’s fourth principal in as many years, he said he is committed to Santa Fe Public Schools for the long haul.

“We’re not making plans to go anywhere,” said Grillo, the father of a 6-year-old and a newborn.

His wife, who previously taught first grade at Salazar Elementary School, now teaches part time at Santa Fe Community College, he said. “We have been here for 11 years and have made a commitment to being part of this community.”

Prior to working in Santa Fe, Grillo taught at an International Baccalaureate school in Mexico City. He said he enjoys guiding students through the International Baccalaureate curriculum because of the ways it challenges them academically and socially.

Juniors and seniors in the program are required to spend 150 hours on a community service project.

“That service is just as important as the academics that IB requires,” Grillo said. “From my experience in Mexico and here in Santa Fe, I think IB really develops a well-rounded and knowledgeable person. I think Santa Fe is really privileged to offer that in a public school.”