Novato educator tapped to lead West Marin School during principal's absence

David Briggs
Rey Mayoral, a retired lifelong educator, is stepping into the principal's seat at West Marin.  

A retired Novato educator has taken the helm at West Marin and Inverness Schools, where the interim principal is out on an unexpected medical leave. Rey Mayoral, a native Spanish speaker with nearly four decades of experience as a public-school principal, started part-time work last week. He will stay until Chris Eckert, the interim principal hired this year, returns, or else through the spring. “While we all miss Mr. Eckert, we are excited to have such an experienced and talented administrator step into this role,” Bob Raines, superintendent of Shoreline Unified School District, wrote in an email to the school community last week. Mr. Raines announced Mr. Eckert’s leave, which he described as triggered by a personal issue, in early November. Mr. Mayoral told the Light last week, “I know there are politics and the like, and, in my mind, I’m not going to deal with that. That wasn’t what I was hired to do. I hope to bring continuity and support for the students, parents and staff, and to provide open and transparent communication with people. I’m a pretty open and transparent person: What you see is what you get.” Mr. Mayoral’s appointment, which was recommended by the Marin Office of Education upon request from Mr. Raines (who has been manning the post himself recently), is the latest in a game of musical chairs. The district appointed Mr. Eckert, previously the sixth-grade teacher at West Marin School, in a pinch after demoting then-principal Matt Nagle after school had already let out, last June. The agreement was for Mr. Eckert to fill the role for the year and for the board to begin a new hiring process mid-year that would be open to both the interim principal and outside applicants. Mr. Raines said that process is still on track: he plans to meet with staff and parents in coming weeks to identify a list of qualities and skills they hope to see in the new hire. The job will be posted at the start of January and the district hopes to appoint someone by April. For his part, Mr. Mayoral comes with years of experience. He relocated to Marin in 2004 from southern California, where he started as a social studies teacher and athletics director. He later held several longstanding principal positions, including in Los Angeles, in Salem, Ore. and in Sacramento. After 10 years serving as the principal of Novato High School, he retired in 2014, and has worked for the county ever since, filling in here and there when a position vacated. Mr. Mayoral is bilingual, a gift he says has served him well. “My mother was from Mexico and my dad from Puerto Rico, and my first language was Spanish,” he said. “Throughout my career, I have been able to connect with that population, not only because I speak the language but because I have the cultural background.” What is it like to come into a district mid-year, leaving what he characterized as a sleepy retirement? After an initial meet-and-greet with parents last week, he said he was excited to develop more personal connections in the small school community. “I want to guide them and support them through this transition, through whatever happens next,” he said.