When local public high school students return to school next fall, a new superintendent will be helming their district.
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved Nellie Meyer as the district’s next superintendent at their April 8 meeting.
Meyer – the current superintendent of the Mount Diablo Unified School District – will replace Jeff Harding, who is retiring after four years leading the district.
Meyer was previously a deputy superintendent in the San Diego Unified School District, where she also served as high school dean of students, vice principal and principal.
“I really have focused most of my career on high school,” Meyer said. “A high school district is something I’ve always had an interest in.”
She is believed to be the first woman to lead MVLA. Dating back to at least the 1930s, the district has hired only male superintendents, district spokeswoman Cynthia Greaves confirmed.
Meyer has led the Mount Diablo school system – which has more than 32,000 students, spanning pre-kindergarten through 12th grade – for six years. The district covers seven Contra Costa County municipalities and has 56 campuses.
Long before she led a school district, Meyer worked as a teacher’s aide at a San Diego elementary school while attending college.
According to Phil Faillace, MVLA board president, it is unusual for a superintendent to start his or her career as a teaching assistant, but it was Meyer’s wide-ranging background in education that made her an appealing candidate.
“She actually started out as a teacher’s aide, so she has known every teaching position along the way to superintendent,” Faillace said. “And she knows it from the inside out, because she’s done them all.”
It was also important to Faillace that the next superintendent grasped the unique makeup of the district.
“She understands that this is a high-performing academic district with many low-income students who don’t come to school with the same advantages,” he said.
Faillace wanted to make sure the board selected a candidate who understood the importance of helping all students improve, whether they are struggling or thriving academically.
Meyer said she believes in working to create a balance between supporting all students and maintaining high academic standards.
Part of her strategy is seeing each student as an individual and listening to his or her input about school.
“They’re the ones who are there all day,” Meyer said. “They see everything and have so many good ideas for how their schools could be stronger.”
The district hired the executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to find Harding’s replacement.
Ultimately, Meyer was the sole finalist for the job and the board’s unanimous pick. Under a three-year contract approved by the board, she will take the reins July 1 and earn an annual base salary of $302,500.