Schmookler to step down, Mazzotta to step in

Schmookler to step down, Mazzotta to step in

Alia Funes

Media Academy Principal Benjamin Schmookler has cut his own position due to budget cuts and his day-to-day duties will be turned over to fourth-year teacher Sarah Mazzotta beginning July 1.

Schmookler told the Green & Gold on May 12 the school simply could not afford to have him as principal.

“We’re merging into one school [in 2012] and I would have to cut two teachers to maintain my position,” said Schmookler. “So rather than cut two teachers, I cut my own position.”

Schmookler said that Mazzotta would take over the role of the principal next school year. He announced the news to the staff on May 11 during a special meeting.

“Ms. Mazzotta will be a teacher on special assignment performing my day to day duties,” said Schmookler. “She will not be teaching.”

Mazzotta spoke to the Green & Gold in an interview on Wednesday.

When asked if she was ready for the new role, she said, “I don’t think you can ever be 100 percent ready. I’m excited to have time outside of the classroom.”

The school will hire someone to replace Mazzotta as a math/science teacher, said Schmookler.

Media Academy has just one more year of being its own small school. The district has decided to combine all three schools at Fremont Federation of High Schools in 2012-13.

“We’re in a transition period; we need a leader and Ms. Mazzotta is more than capable of doing that job,” said Schmookler.

Mazzotta said that she feels equipped for the transition.

“The school needed someone who knows the students,” she said. “And that way, it is the smoothest transition as possible.”

The staff had known Schmookler was leaving for several months, but they did not know who would oversee the school until Wednesday. Students did not know about Schmookler.

Students were mixed about losing Schmookler as principal and gaining Mazzotta as their new leader.

“She’s going to be awesome,” said sophomore M’Kala Payton shortly after hearing the news from the Green & Gold reporters. “She already knows so many students and is connected to them.”

Other students predicted what kind of leader she would be.

“She’s going to rule with an iron fist,” said junior Precious Kittles.”That’s not necessarily a bad thing … she’ll rule with an iron fist as in she’ll get things done; she’ll rule with an iron fist because she’s going to have to be strict on some occassion.”

Since the Media Academy was founded in 2003, Schmookler has been principal of the school. He says his biggest accomplishment was getting teachers to collaborate.

“All the teachers worked together and raised the API score,” said Schmookler. “It’s not one thing I’ve done, but all the things we’ve done [as a staff].”

When Fremont was still a large school in 2002, the API was 440. This year, Media Academy’s score is 619.