New Principals Named at Hart School District

Erum Velek will move from principal at Rancho Pico Junior High to become the principal at Academy of the Canyons (AOC) and Learning Post Academy; Catherine Nicholas will move from principal at Sequoia School to principal at Rancho Pico; Donna Manfredi will move from assistant principal at West Ranch High School to interim principal at Golden Oak Adult School; and Josh McDonald will move from assistant principal at Valencia High School to assistant principal at Castaic High School and supervisor of Sequoia, which will become a program at Castaic.
Erum Velek started teaching in 2001 as a math teacher at Canyon High School. In 2004, she joined the leadership team that opened Golden Valley High School as math department chair. Three years later Ms. Velek was named principal of the District’s first Early College High School in collaboration with College of the Canyons. After Early College and AOC merged making AOC the 9 to 12 school it is today, Ms. Velek became assistant principal at both Placerita Junior High School and Hart High School. In 2012, she was appointed as the principal of Rancho Pico Junior High School. She has a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from Cal State, Northridge, a Master’s in Education and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of LaVerne.
Dr. Catherine Nicholas has been an educator in the Hart School District for 30 years. She spent 20 years teaching science prior to leaving the classroom to serve as an Assistant Principal at Rancho Pico Junior High, Arroyo Seco Junior High and then Canyon High. Most recently, Dr. Nicholas served as the principal of Sequoia School. She received both her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Master’s in Educational Computing from Pepperdine University, her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administrative Credential from Cal State, Northridge, and her Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from UCLA.
Donna Manfredi taught English and Theater at both Hart and Valencia High Schools. She became an assistant principal in 2000, first at Canyon High School and then at West Ranch. At her school sites, Ms. Manfredi has overseen numerous areas including Special Education, Facilities, EL, Intervention, Curriculum and Instructional, Summer School, School Safety, Fine and Performing Arts, and Student Health and Welfare. Most recently, she helped create the West Ranch High School Wellness Center, which continues to serve the needs of students. Ms. Manfredi earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Arts and Dramatics with Secondary Teaching Credentials in English and Theater Arts from Rutgers University, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Management from the University of La Verne.
Josh McDonald began his career at Saugus High School where he spent ten years supporting students and families as a School Psychologist. Following his tenure at Saugus, Mr. McDonald worked at La Mesa Junior High School as an assistant principal. Most recently, he has served as an assistant principal at Valencia High School where he oversaw the athletic and special education programs. Mr. McDonald holds a Bachelor’s of Education Degree from Arizona State University, and both a Master of Science Degree in Counseling and Master of Arts Degree in Educational Administration from Cal State, Northridge. He is a Licensed Educational Psychologist in the state of California.