Respect the SHIELD.
That’s one of the new traditions at Lathrop High introduced by first-year Principal Greg Leland.
This program – SHIELD is an acronym for Spartans Honor Integrity Engagement Leadership Determination – is similar to that of Honor the Code at Manteca High.
“We were looking to come up with a character program,” said Leland, who contacted MHS Assistant Principal Troy Fast to help model Respect the SHIELD.
Students at LHS can now look forward to being recognized and even rewarded for their good behavior with positive, tangible incentives.
The painting of the shield, much like the character program, is a work in progress, with the branding of the logo still needed to complete this campus centerpiece.
Leland was hired back in July as principal at LHS, taking over from Mike Horwood. He spent the previous year at the school as the assistant principal
“I hit the floor running when I was hired,” he said. “I worked all through the summer.”
Leland is the third principal at Lathrop High, which opened in 2008. During that time, he was still at Sierra High, where he helped open that school in 1994 – Leland taught Health, World History, European History, and coached varsity football along with track and field.
By 2011, he was the Sierra vice principal, having performed various administrative duties, including Dean of Activities, Dean of Athletics, and Summer School principal.
His time at the Manteca Unified School District plays out like connect the dots.
A product of Lincoln High in Stockton, Leland got his start in education in 1985 at Lathrop Elementary School.
“It’s now come full circle,” he said of his career last Friday.
That circle included his time at MHS, where he also embarked on a 20-year coaching career in football. Leland also coached track and field.
He was an assistant for the Buffaloes along with Jack Miller and head coach Bob Lee. Leland is godfather to Lee’s son, Andrew, who is the vice principal at Sierra.
At MHS – he was there from 1986 to 1992 – Leland taught Health, Psychology and Peer Resource.
He was at East Union for two years before moving on to Sierra High, which, at the time, was the third comprehensive high school of the Manteca Unified School District when it opened in 1994.
As the head coach of the Timberwolves, he had a who’s who among his group of assistants – included were current Sierra High Principal Steve Clark (he was the freshmen coach), MHS Principal Frank Gonzales and Buffaloes head coach Eric Reis, to name a few.
He has a long list of former students and players.
Take his staff at LHS, where Leland once coached the likes of Erica Chapman, Jarrod Daniels, Rodney Daniels, Courtney Whitlock, Heather Anderson, Megan Anderson, Randy Baltazar, Krystle Davis, Stephanie Maestretti, Andrea Valiquette and Alan Calpito.
As for others on his staff, he graduated with Assistant Principal Martha Dent at Lincoln High and coached Vice Principal Chuck Selna, who was a standout football player at Tracy High, in the 1987 North vs. South Lions All-Star Game.
“I’ve known (vice principal) Bill Pinol for over 30 years,” Leland added.
As a new principal, he was asked to bring in a mentor, turning to his old friend in Rick Arucan.
“I learned a lot from him at Sierra,” Leland said of his former principal.
They were at that school from Day 1, helping implement programs and traditions that continues on through this day.
Leland is hoping to do likewise at LHS.
“We already have plenty of school spirit among the students, teachers and staff,” he said.
Although sports are one way of reaching out to the community – LHS is in its last year in the Valley Oak League, and will be moved into the new-look Western Athletic Conference beginning in 2018 – Leland indicated that academics have been more in forefront given the success of last year’s Academic Decathlon team and the results of the recent Advanced Placement tests.
He already had a strong bond with those at the feeder school sites – namely, Lathrop Elementary, Mossdale and Joseph Widmer – knowing principals David Silveira (Lathrop Elementary), Susan Sanders (Mossdale) and Kat Brown-Snyder (Widmer) from over the years.
Brown-Snyder was his sideline trainer during his days of coaching the Timberwolves.
Leland is a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus, earning his degree in Social Services. Prior to that, he spent a few years at Delta College.
According to MUSD, he has a master’s in School Counseling from the University of LaVerne, and holds a single subject teaching credential in Social Science, a pupil personnel services credential in School Counseling, and an Administrative Service Credential.
Leland and his wife Debbie are parents to grown children, Mike and Brittany.
In 2013, he was inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame for his dedication to young people that now spans over three decades.
His “professional integrity is exceptional, and his belief in the power of positive relationships continue to earn the respect and trust of the school community,” said MUSD of Greg Leland from a few years ago.
That description still fits him to this day.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org