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New Administration Lined up at San Jose Middle School

Justin Mori takes over as principal and will get key support from Jim Larson and Dan Curtaz.

An assistant principal from Terra Linda High School in San Rafael has taken the reins at in Novato, replacing the .

The announced that Justin Mori has been named principal, Jim Larson as assistant principal and Dan Curtaz as dean.

“We’re excited that Justin has joined NUSD," Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said in a release from the school district. "His strong background in curriculum and instruction will be a plus at San Jose. ... We’re also thrilled to promote Jim to assistant principal and have Dan full-time at San Jose."

Killeen, a former principal who slid over to San Jose along with many Hill students and parents after Hill was closed last summer. Killeen announced this spring her intention of moving to Southern California to be closer to her family, and she has accepted a position as principal at a middle school down there.

Paige Gardner and Gus Shinzato also departed from the San Jose staff. Gardner accepted a position as principal at Oak Grove Elementary School in Sebastopol, and Shinzato accepted a counseling position at .

Mori, a Petaluma High graduate, spent six years on the Terra Linda adminstrative staff after moving up from Southern California. He was the activities director at Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo (Orange County) and secondary teaching assistant principal and science teacher at Newhart Middle School in nearby Mission Viejo. Mori has a degree in history from the UC Santa Barbara and a masters in education from Chapman University in Orange County. 

Larson taught language arts, science and physical education at San Jose for the past seven years and filled in as a co-administrator at the school when Killeen was away from campus. Growing up in Novato, he attended Lynwood and Lu Sutton elementary schools, Sinaloa Middle School and graduated from . Larson has philosophy degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a masters in education from San Francisco State University. His wife, Jen, is a teacher at Sinaloa.

Curtaz, a 14-year NUSD veteran, was a part-time dean at both San Jose and Sinaloa in the past school year. He was a teacher then assistant principal at Novato High School before becoming dean of students at Hill in 2010. Curtaz is a Sacramento State graduate.

Novato Chess Club June 29, 2012 at 07:17 PM
We look forward to continuing our volunteer chess program at San Jose Middle School. Congratulation's to the new administration, and positive attitude toward discipline in the classroom..We love SJMS free of intimidation, threats and bad behavior. Go PTSA!
Novato Chess Club June 29, 2012 at 07:21 PM
We congratulate Ms. Gardner and Mr. Shinzato for the hardwork at SJMS. We appreciate their support of chess in middle school the past (2) years...quality people; they will be missed.
Chip Tingle June 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I'm happy to see many changes that may have a chance of sorting out some pretty ugly intra-staff relations from last year, as evidenced by many posts here on the Patch. Cheers and best wishes on all three of you gents. DC, I'll see you on the fields and courts. Thanks for the continued coverage, Brent and Patchees. You brought me back into Patch life with this one.
Marc S. June 30, 2012 at 04:50 AM
I would like to know what SJMS is doing about the gang problem.
Novato Chess Club October 12, 2012 at 08:06 PM
http://haywardyouthacademy.org/2012/08/18/novato-chess-club-youth-fundraiser-at-red-boy-pizza/ Bring your chessboards, listen to jazz and enjoy pizza at Red Boy.... Novato Chess Club Youth Fundraiser: Red Boy Pizza (Ignacio location) October 13, 2012 In partnership with College Dream Team, Novato Chess Club announces our community fundraiser at Red Boy Pizza on October 13, 2012. Support HYA “College Outreach Program”, and chess at San Jose Middle School and Lynwood Elementary for 2012-13. Saint Mary’s College and Cal State University East Bay will serve as our “college outreach” host for the 2012-13 academic year. We are asking for community support of our Novato afterschool chess program beginning October 9th and 10th. The event will be held from 2-6pm, featuring the smooth jazz sounds of local favorite Carl Oser. Donate, dine in, …order a pizza from Red Boy, on October 13, 2012. Support youth chess in Novato schools.

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