Rich Merlo, Using Tech to Narrow the Opportunity Gap

The Path to Higher Ed is a SchooLinks hosted podcast community that explores trending topics and issues in the area of college and career readiness. Our featured guests are pushing education forward by constantly learning from, innovating and applying their college and career readiness practices. Listen to gain their insights and apply them to your own college and career readiness practices.

In this episode, we speak with Rich Merlo, Superintendent of Corcoran Unified School District. Through a tech-forward school culture, Rich is determined to reach all of his learners through hands-on, differentiated instruction. His work at CUSD is demonstrating that sociodemographic status does not have to determine student outcomes.

About Rich Merlo

A native of Sanger, Rich Merlo began his career in education in 1977 as a biology and physical education instructor and coach. After teaching in the Bay Area, he returned home to the Central Valley as a biology, physical education instructor, and head football coach at Selma High School. He became Selma’s assistant principal in 1994 and served as principal starting in 1996 for the next eight years. During this time, he was also a part-time instructor at Kings River Community College. He is currently an online instructor for the University of Phoenix.

Since July of 2004, Mr. Merlo has served as superintendent at Corcoran Unified School District. Mr. Merlo is passionate about raising the achievement level of all Corcoran students through “motivating people to motivate students.” A key part of his mission is ensuring staff and students have the most innovative tools and technology available to enhance student learning and to prepare students for success in this Information Age.


  • Bachelor’s degree in human biology — Stanford University

  • Master of arts in education — Stanford University

  • Master of arts in educational administration — Fresno Pacific University, 2001

  • Certificate of Completion of the ACSA Superintendent’s Academy — 2004

  • Life credentials in physical education, life science, and health

  • Community college credential in physical education and health

Honors and Awards:

  • Central Sequoia Football Coach of the Year on two occasions

  • Head coach of the County All Star Team — 1985

  • Selma Unified School District Teacher of the Year award — 1994

  • Named as a Fresno County Administrator of the Year finalist while serving as principal at Selma High School — 1998

  • Association of California School Administrators Region 11 Administrator of the Year Award — 2009

  • Lexington Institute Leadership Fellow 2015

Community Involvement:

  • Corcoran Rotary Club

  • Corcoran Chamber of Commerce

  • Community and Schools Together (CAST)

  • Citizens Advisory Committee for California State Prison-Corcoran and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and Prison at Corcoran

  • President’s Advisory Committee for the School of Education at California State University, Fresno

  • Executive Leadership Council for Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute

  • Rural Schools Network for the Central Valley

  • Serves on several educational committees through the Kings County Office of Education

About Corcoran Unified School District

The goal of Corcoran Unified School District is to become a “Destination District.” This vision is becoming a reality, thanks to staff members who work hard to create a positive environment that encourages innovation and personal growth, resulting in a culture of excellence for students.

  • CUSD’s mission is to develop confident, successful academic achievers among our whole student population.

  • The district believes nothing can compete with the positive influences of highly effective teachers and schools. Therefore, it refuses to accept low expectations for low-income students. All students can achieve!

  • CUSD is pleased to offer every child access to high-tech educational tools via the One2One Technology Learning Program, a distinct privilege as just over 100 school districts in the nation have an Apple Distinguished Technology Program!

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