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McCreath takes over as French Camp principal
pic principal-susie-mccreath n-LT
Susie McCreath is all but settled in as principal at French Camp School. Shes the former vice principal at the school. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

FRENCH CAMP— Susie McCreath calls the operation at French Camp School a “well-oiled” machine.

And for good reason – she’s been part of the process at this Manteca Unified kindergarten-through-eighth-grade site for the past few years.

Never mind it was on a part-time basis.

The pieces were firmly put in place by the recently departed Joanne Balestreri, who took over as principal of the school during Program Improvement restructuring in 2007.

At the time, the rural school was in year four of program-improvement status and risked being taken over by the state. The district poured all of its Title 1 federal funding in to French Camp School to help implement certain programs necessary for the turnaround.

Fuchsia Track, servicing migrant students, is part of that legacy.

“We’re the only school (in MUSD) operating on two calendars,” said McCreath, who is the new principal at the school.

This two-track system services nearly 700 students, including over 600 operating on the traditional August-through-June calendar. Last week marked the first day of school.

Migrant students are on Fuchsia Track, which offers several months off in the middle of the school year specifically for family matters.

McCreath was splitting her time between French Camp and Lincoln schools in her role as vice principal. But that changed when she became principal.

“I’m full-time at French Camp, which allows me to focus (on the day-to-day operation) and get into the rhythm of the school,” she said last Friday. “As for the students, they’re getting a better chance to know me.”

McCreath – she’s the same one selected six months ago to participate in the Year of You, a fitness challenge hosted by the Bulletin and CORE Athletic Performance – is a resident of Ripon. She and her husband Doug McCreath, the former Manteca High principal and current Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services with the San Joaquin County Office of Education, have lived there for the past 20 years, raising their four children.

Jake, the oldest, is a fourth-string tight end for the University of Oregon Ducks’ football program. A walk-on at his dream school, he’s trying to work his way up to the travel squad, according to his mother.

Josh, who is a 2013 graduate of Ripon High, is serving overseas with the U.S. Air Force. He’s a year younger than Jake.

The twins, Madison and Samantha, are students at Ripon High.

For Susie McCreath, her routine has been simplified in her new role.

Julia Smith is her vice principal, and splits her time between French Camp and Golden West.

McCreath says she has been blessed with an experienced support staff and knowledgeable teaching staff.

She started teaching in 1997, working at Nile Garden and Brock Elliott schools in those early years.

Her first brush with French Camp was as a teacher, from 2007 to 2009, prior to becoming vice principal with dual-campus duties.

“The big difference now is that I’m not going back and forth (from French Camp to Lincoln),” said McCreath. “I’ve moved one office over and I also get tons more emails.”

She added: “It’s easy to be principal here – everyone knows their roles and they do so with pride.”