San Marino Unified School District Welcomes Interim Principal and Assistant Principal at Henry E. Huntington Middle School

The San Marino Unified School District is exceedingly pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Mary Hazlett as the Interim Principal of Huntington Middle School. Additionally, the District welcomes Ms. Michelle Cota as the Interim Assistant Principal. These experienced educators bring a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record of success to their new roles.

Ms. Hazlett’s promotion to the position of interim Principal is a testament to her dedication and exceptional performance as the assistant principal under the esteemed leadership of Mr. Daryl Topalian for the past two years. Her ability to effectively collaborate with staff, engage students, and build a positive school culture has earned her the respect and admiration of the school community.

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During her time as assistant principal, Ms. Hazlett played a crucial role in implementing educational initiatives, overseeing student activities including outdoor education, improving student achievement, and fostering a safe and inclusive learning environment at Huntington Middle School. Her strong leadership skills, coupled with her deep understanding of the school’s unique challenges and strengths, make her the ideal candidate to lead the school forward during this transitional period. Ms. Hazlett’s numerous accomplishments include a record number of outdoor science education participants this past year, elevating the school’s social media presence, effectively managing the school’s emergency management systems, promoting the success of all students, employees, and programs, and responding to diverse community needs and interests.

Joining Ms. Hazlett is Ms. Michelle Cota, who will serve as the interim Assistant Principal at Huntington Middle School for the 2023-2024 school year. Ms. Cota brings a wealth of teaching and leadership experience to her new role. She has been an integral part of the San Marino Unified School District community since 2015, serving as an English Teacher and co-department chair at San Marino High School. Prior to joining the San Marino High School team, she was an I.C.E.F. Cadre Leader and English Department Chair at the Frederick Douglass Academy High School. There, she was responsible for overseeing all English Language faculty across all campuses, planning and leading meetings, facilitating professional development, and conducting classroom observations and evaluations.

Ms. Cota’s academic background is foundational in preparation for this new role. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and education and earned her single-subject teaching credential from UC Irvine. She recently earned her preliminary administrative credential. Her extensive experience in curriculum development, instructional strategies, and student support will greatly benefit the students, staff, and families at Huntington Middle School.
Superintendent Dr. Linda de la Torre expressed her confidence in the new interim leadership team, stating, “We are excited to have Ms. Hazlett and Ms. Cota step into their new roles at Huntington Middle School. Their proven dedication to educational excellence, commitment to student success, and collaborative leadership style make them the perfect fit for this transitional period. We look forward to their positive impact on the school community.” Board President Shelley Ryan said, “Providing continuity in leadership during times of change is very important to the Board of Education. Ms. Hazlett and Ms. Cota both have the right combination of skills, experience, credentials, and institutional knowledge that will provide stability in moving the school forward over the next year and give us the time that we need to conduct an exhaustive search for a permanent principal commencing with the 2024-2025 school year.”

The San Marino Unified School District would like to extend its sincere appreciation to Mr. Daryl Topalian for his years of dedicated service as the principal of Huntington Middle School and wishes him all the best in his future endeavors.