Lifer Eric Mercado takes the reins of Monsignor Scanlan High School as new principal – Bronx Times

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Students and faculty begin arriving at 7:15 a.m. and stand front and center of the main hall to greet them all as part of his morning routine – Eric Mercado, the new principal of Monsignor Scanlan High School.

With an educational career spanning more than 26 years, the Bronx native, who is weeks shy of his 50th birthday, began teaching at St. Raymond Middle School in the Bronx in 1996 and began coaching at Monsignor Scanlan High School the same year. .

For two decades, Mercado worked at several institutions as dean of students, director of admissions, and chair of several athletic departments, including Bronx Community College.

“[These experiences] were able to train me and shape me and make me a complete leader,” he said. “All of these places gave me a different chance to showcase different skills depending on the needs or needs of the institution in question at that time.”

But, a role that had alluded to Mercado at this point was leading.

Growing up, the majority of Mercado’s life revolved around education as his mother, who had a two-decade career in education, constantly insisted on education for him and his siblings. Uncles and aunts were educators, and soon Mercado and his two sisters would pursue work in teaching, joining what he called “the family business.”

After discussions with his wife, a teacher of 27 years, family and friends, he decided to take on the position of Principal at Monsignor Scanlan High School.

“It was a surreal moment because I felt like it was kind of the culmination of my mom’s hard work…how much she pushed for us to be productive members of society and community” , said Mercado. “That says everything.”

After taking up his new role in August 2022, Mercado said his main goal was to revive and elevate the status of the Roman Catholic high school to what it was when he coached there in the 1990s.

“It starts with the school community,” he said. “It starts with how we treat each other, the level of respect that exists here.”

After taking over, Mercado began launching programs such as Catholic High School Admissions Test Exam Preparation Courses for junior high school students. He’s also trying to bring a competitive gaming team to high school with the help of the Electronic Gaming Federation, which he hopes will start in February. Tasked by the high school board of trustees, Mercado also successfully reinstated the student council.

Bronx native Eric Mercado began his new role as Monsignor Scanlan’s manager in August. Photo courtesy of Monsignor Scanlan HS

“There are great new initiatives being brought here to help promote our school in the community and provide opportunities for our students,” Mercado said. “At the end of the day, that’s what you’re in education for.

“The idea is to provide opportunities for your students. Everyone has a different path they must take. »

On a recent Wednesday morning, Mercado prepares to lead morning prayer and the oath of allegiance, a tradition every morning. As the day goes on, constant communication between his staff and faculty keeps him on his toes for any pressing matters. In his new role, Mercado has focused on maintaining a presence throughout the school as he constantly patrols the building, popping heads in class or during lunch.

Some days consist of paperwork, answering emails and talking to parents or council meetings, but even when the school day ends at 4 p.m., the main role continues.

As he wishes the students a great night as they board their designated buses, Mercado continues his mission to be present, heading to the volleyball team competition.

“When you’re able to connect with students on a different level than the classroom, that’s what makes the job really interesting,” he said.

Mercado, who identifies as a Puerto Rican-American with grandparents from Puerto Rico, said it’s extremely important that students see a face they can relate to. He added that it is valuable for students to see someone of color succeed and to be something they can look up to and look up to.

However, Mercado pointed out that he has seen incredible educators who are not part of the majority population in schools become excellent role models for students. During his 9-year stay at All Hallows High School in the Bronx, he said the school had a large Hispanic student population. But Sean Sullivan, who is Irish and was a director for 23 years, became an inspiration and a role model.

“People are motivated when they understand and know they’re supported,” Mercado said. “They want to know someone cares about them.”

As Mercado looks to usher in new changes, he said he’s also inherited some traditions, which he values. One of the events included Sister Linda Bonasera’s Healthy Living Walk, which honors the legacy of Bonasera, who worked in high school for 39 years and died in 2008 of cancerr. Mercado said it was great to be part of the tradition and raise nearly $3,000 for cancer awareness research.

As his main duties come to an end each day, Mercado relaxes. Maybe listening to Frank Sinatra or old school hip-hop, watching the Mets or the Jets or the Knicks. But, Mercado said he also finds comfort in spending time with his family.

“When one of your students sees you outside the work area and you’re not in a shirt and tie or you’re not in a suit, it’s always amazing how they react to seeing you – that never gets old,” Mercado said.

At the end of the day, Mercado prepares for another morning of main duties, starting with his morning routine of greeting every student and faculty member. As he navigates this new role, he seeks to continue to bring back a level of professionalism and make the school viable in the community.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the students,” Mercado said. “There is no other reason for us to be here except to ensure that each of these young men and young women gets an education.

Contact Nicholas Hernandez at [email protected]. For more coverage follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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