Las Cruces Names Principal For New High School

Las Cruces – Picacho Middle School Principal Michael Montoya has been selected as principal of the new Centennial High School, Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Stan Rounds announced today. Montoya begins his new assignment on July 1, 2011 and will prepare for the school's opening in August 2012.

"Wow! What an honor," said Montoya. "I am excited about the opportunity to serve the community in opening the newest high school in New Mexico."

During the next year, Montoya will be knee-deep in purchases of supplies, materials, equipment and furniture for the $100 million high school. He will also be selecting staff for the school that will eventually house 2,000 students. The building, under construction on Sonoma Ranch Boulevard, is about 60% complete.

"Michael has many years' experience as a middle school and high school teacher and administrator," said Rounds. "He has a deep-rooted understanding of how to guide Centennial to integrate career-technical education with the core academics."

Dr. Steven Sanchez, LCPS associate superintendent for learning, teaching and research, agrees that having both middle and high school background will be critical to this particular high school.

"The principal will be key to organizing teams of teachers with smaller groups of students in what is known as small learning communities,' " said Sanchez. "Centennial's building is designed around this concept and it will be of particular benefit to ninth-graders who are transitioning from middle school."

"I'm looking forward to working with community leaders in developing a career-oriented high school one that will provide our future graduates with all the essential skills to become life-long learners," said Montoya.

Montoya, 47, has been principal of Picacho Middle School for the past eight years. Before that, he served two years as assistant principal at Zia Middle School and seven years as assistant principal at Shiprock High School in Shiprock, N.M. Before becoming an administrator, Montoya was a high school special education teacher with LCPS for four years, with Shiprock High School for one year and with Newcomb High School in Newcomb, N.M. for three years.

Montoya has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master's of Education in Educational Administration, both from New Mexico State University. He is a 1981 graduate of Las Cruces High School and a native of Tortugas, south of Las Cruces.

Beginning in July, Montoya's temporary office will be in the LCPS Instruction Department. The Centennial High attendance boundaries will be determined over the next several months. Once approved, families will know whether they live within the new attendance zone and Montoya will begin communicating with the prospective Centennial students.