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Newport-Mesa district appoints new principals at 5 schools

Terri Clarke, Mia Doidge, Somer Harding, Ryan Longacre and Michael Wagner, from left, are the new principals at Newport Heights Elementary, Sonora Elementary, Newport Coast Elementary, California Elementary and Back Bay/Monte Vista High schools.
(Courtesy of Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District announced this week that five schools will have new principals next school year.

Michael Wagner, Somer Harding, Terri Clarke, Mia Doidge and Ryan Longacre have been named principals of Back Bay/Monte Vista High School and Newport Coast, Newport Heights, Sonora and California elementary schools, respectively.

The formal appointments will be made at the school board’s next meeting Tuesday.

District spokeswoman Annette Franco said principals are district employees who are assigned to specific schools and that shifting them around is common.


The five new principals are part of a larger group of principals and assistant principals coming in the 2019-20 school year. An announcement of the other additions will come later this summer, Franco said.

Terri Clarke, Newport Heights Elementary School

Clarke is stepping into her new role as principal of Newport Heights Elementary following her time as assistant principal for Newport Heights and Whittier elementary schools in the past three years.

“I am beyond thrilled to continue my partnership with the Newport Heights Elementary students, staff and community,” Clarke said. “I look forward to collaborating with the students, staff and community in celebrating successes, continuously reaching for new heights and enjoying all the things that make Newport Heights so special.”

Clarke has worked in the Newport-Mesa district for 15 years in various capacities, including teaching and leadership roles. Before her time at Newport Heights and Whittier, she was an assistant principal at Lincoln and College Park elementary schools. She is a graduate of the Newport-Mesa Unified Leadership Institute.


She received a bachelor’s degree in dance and theater arts at UC Irvine and a master’s in educational leadership at Cal State Long Beach.

She is replacing former Newport Heights principal Somer Harding, who will be the new principal at Newport Coast Elementary.

Mia Doidge, Sonora Elementary School

Doidge, who served as principal of Wilson Elementary School the past two years, is headed for Sonora Elementary.

“I’m honored and excited to join the Sonora family. There are so many wonderful things about Sonora that I’m looking forward to learning about and becoming a part of,” Doidge said. “No Excuses University is something I’ve wanted to be involved in since I was part of a ‘College Bound’ initiative during my years in the classroom.”

No Excuses University is a network of schools that Sonora is affiliated with that focuses on preparing students for college.

In her 17 years of educational experience, Doidge also has worked in the Garden Grove Unified School District as a teacher in first through sixth grades and as a grade-level chair and teacher on special assignment.

She received a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s in teaching from UC Irvine.

Her appointment at Sonora follows the retirement of former principal Christine Anderson. Doidge’s replacement at Wilson has not been determined.


Somer Harding, Newport Coast Elementary School

Harding will be joining Newport Coast Elementary after four years as principal at Newport Heights Elementary School.

“It is very exciting for me to begin to serve the school community where I grew up, having attended Harbor View, Eastbluff, Lincoln and CdM [High School] myself,” Harding said. “I look forward to working with the students, staff and families at Newport Coast to continue their traditions of excellence.”

She previously was an elementary school principal in the Conejo Valley Unified School District in Thousand Oaks and a teacher, dean of students and assistant principal in the Las Virgenes Unified School District in Calabasas.

Harding received a bachelor’s degree in political science at UCLA and a master’s in educational leadership at Cal State Northridge.

Her appointment at Newport Coast follows the departure of former principal Julie McCormick.

Ryan Longacre, California Elementary School

Longacre has been with Newport-Mesa Unified for 14 years as a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Davis Magnet School and California Elementary, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Newport Coast Elementary, an instructional support specialist for elementary education and, more recently, assistant principal at College Park and Mariners elementary schools.

Now he’ll begin a new role as principal of California Elementary.

“It is an incredible honor to be returning to such an amazing community of students, parents and staff,” Longacre said. “I am very eager to begin reconnecting with my colleagues and building new relationships with all stakeholder groups, and I look forward to collaborating with my new team to further the great work already underway.”


Longacre received a bachelor’s degree in art history from Cal State Fullerton and a master’s in art history and a multiple-subject teaching credential from Cal State Long Beach.

He is replacing former California Elementary principal Jake Topete, who has been asked to be an assistant principal at an undetermined school in the district.

Michael Wagner, Back Bay/Monte Vista High School

Wagner has been serving as acting principal of Back Bay/Monte Vista and now will officially lead the school.

“I am beyond excited for my new role as principal,“ Wagner said. “Since the day I stepped foot on the Back Bay/Monte Vista campus, I have felt that I can see a little bit of my younger self in my students.”

“As we plan and prepare for the ’19-20 school year, I look forward to my new role as principal and the opportunity to continue to work with such a great community of learners and the people who support them,” he added.

Wagner has served the Back Bay/Monte Vista community for 13 years as a history teacher, a teacher on special assignment and an assistant principal. He helped develop course curriculum and independent course work tailored to the needs of students.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Cal State Long Beach and a master’s in educational administration from Alliant University.

His appointment as principal follows the departure of former principal Marc Trocchio.

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