DUSD Officials and Teachers Thrilled With Plans for DECA


Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Denair schools trustees and the public will have their first chance Thursday night to publicly review plans for a revamped elementary charter school.

The proposal calls for Denair Elementary School and the adjacent Denair Academic Avenues to form a new school known as Denair Elementary Charter Academy, or DECA, for the 2015-16 school year.  Together, the two campuses now have about 500 kindergarten through fifth-grade students from Denair and surrounding areas.

DECA’s mission, according to the proposed new charter, “is to provide students with an engaging, nurturing, equitable learning environment that promotes the development of skills necessary for the 21st century.”

The curriculum will be rich with core subjects such as language arts, math, science, social science and physical education. Electives will include world/foreign languages, drama, music, art, dance and computer instruction.

Already, DECA’s dual immersion English/Spanish class for kindergartens is proving to be popular, with 26 students signed up and five on a waiting list, said Principal Sara Michelena. A second class could be added if there at least 40 students.

The class will follow the 90% Spanish and 10% English dual immersion model, Michelena said. The goal is to have a 50/50 mix of English and Spanish speakers. The intent, she said, is to add a dual immersion class at successive grade levels each year as the first group of kindergartners gets older.

All other DECA students also will have regular Spanish instruction, Michelena said. In addition, the new charter school will have two 30-station computer labs to teach tech skills and will continue to focus on arts enrichment for all students. Even at the elementary level, there will be an emphasis on building a college-going culture among children. Continue reading “DUSD Officials and Teachers Thrilled With Plans for DECA” »

Kindergarten Registration Begins in Denair for 2015-16 School Year

DES Coyote Cub

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Kindergarten registration begins Tuesday at Denair Elementary School for the 2015-16 school year.

Application forms in English and Spanish can be downloaded from the school’s website or can be picked up at the school office at 3773 Madera Ave. Parents and guardians must provide copies of their child’s birth certificate and immunization records.

Officials will be on hand from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday to answer questions, offer assistance in filling out the forms and accept completed applications. People also can call the school office at 632-8887 for more information.

Denair offers three options for kindergarten:

  • Traditional full day classes for children who will be 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2015.
  • Dual immersion English and Spanish classes, also for children who will be 5 years old by Sept. 1, 2015.
  • Transitional kindergarten for children who will turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2, 2015.

Denair is in the process of merging its two elementary programs – Denair Elementary School and Denair Academic Avenues – into a unified kindergarten through fifth-grade campus under a single charter. The proposed name for the new school is Denair Elementary Charter Academy.

In anticipation of the new arrangement, DES and D2A already have begun joint activities this year, including a 20-minute assembly each Friday morning.

A Class Act! 10 Questions for Brenda Ranes

Brenda Ranes

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Name: Brenda Ranes

Family: My husband is Mark Ranes (where would we be without Mark when we have tech problems?) We have a 24-year-old daughter, Meagan, who lives in Oakland and recently graduated from Academy of Arts University, San Francisco, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and a 16-year-old son, Dawson, who is a junior in high school.

School: Denair Academic Avenues

Subjects taught: English-language arts and social studies

Experience and education: I graduated from Denair High School and then earned my BA degree and multiple subjects teaching credential from California State University, Stanislaus. I began my career teaching fifth grade at Bonita Elementary School in Crows Landing for 10 years. I then returned to my hometown of Denair to teach seventh-grade English-language arts and social studies for 15 years. Realizing that I needed a new challenge, I made the decision three years ago to return to elementary school and made the move across the street (again!) to teach fifth grade at Denair Academic Avenues.

What most inspires you about teaching? The students inspire me the most! I love teaching children and seeing their faces when they get excited about something that they are learning.

What are your biggest challenges as a teacher? It’s very challenging juggling everything that I have to deal with throughout the day and have everything work out. Every day is a challenge as I deal with several different students and grade levels, but it is the most rewarding feeling as well. I didn’t go into teaching because I wanted an easy job; I’m constantly challenged and there is never a dull moment.

What is your favorite teaching tool or activity?   I love using technology in my daily teaching like the Elmo (what an improvement from overhead projectors!) and being able to show a Keynote or a video clip from my computer at a moment’s notice. I guess I better love technology since I’m married to the “Tech Guy!” Continue reading “A Class Act! 10 Questions for Brenda Ranes” »

DES and D2A to Unify for 2015-16 School Year

Current DES/D2A Office

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Two elementary campuses will become one at the start of the next school year in Denair, it was announced Thursday night.

Denair Elementary School and the adjacent Denair Academic Avenues will merge to form a new school called Denair Elementary Charter Academy. Together, the two schools today educate 485 kindergarten through fifth-grade students from Denair and surrounding areas.

A new charter will be written that incorporates the best of both campuses, Superintendent Aaron Rosander told Denair Unified School District trustees Thursday night in unveiling the plan. He cited the charter school’s Spanish language and fine arts programs and DES’s music and traditional academic offerings as strengths that would be retained on a unified campus.

“The charter is proposed to provide a Spanish language dual immersion program and exposure to fine arts throughout in a ‘college awareness’ school culture,” Rosander explained. “This new charter is projected to be the pre-eminent elementary education leader of its type in our local region.”

Denair Academic Avenues, or D2A as it is known, was formed in 2010. In addition to enriched Spanish and performing arts instruction, it adds 30 minutes to the school day Monday through Thursday. Because it is a charter school, students outside the DUSD can attend without needing permission from their home district.

Denair Grammar School started in 1907. It was renamed Denair Elementary School when four classrooms were built on the current site in 1949.

Principal Sara Michelena, who oversees both schools, had multiple discussions with teachers, parents and community members about the consolidation. The proposed name of the new charter school is DECA, she said – a name suggested by staff that draws from the popular and successful Denair Charter Academy independent study program that also is part of the DUSD. Continue reading “DES and D2A to Unify for 2015-16 School Year” »

DUSD Sidewalk Project Moves Ahead


Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The beautification project that will add almost 700 feet of sidewalk and landscaping along the north side Monte Vista Avenue behind Jack W. Lytton Stadium is about to kick into high gear, Superintendent Aaron Rosander told Denair school board trustees Thursday night.

The project is a partnership between the Denair Unified School District and Stanislaus County. Supervisor Vito Chiesa, who represents the Denair area, arranged for a local company to donate the concrete work. The school district will install the irrigation system, grass and shrubbery.

Rosander said there will be a community fundraising effort to help pay for the district’s piece of the project, estimated to be about $5,000.

Grading of the strip of land already has occurred. Rosander expects the concrete to be poured sometime after Thanksgiving, depending upon the weather.

The new 5-foot sidewalk will connect with an existing walkway that now ends at the intersection of Lester Road and Monte Vista. It will provide a safer route to and from the stadium, which hosts football games and other community events.

At Thursday night’s board meeting, Rosander also updated trustees on proposed unification of Denair Elementary School and Denair Academic Avenues, a charter school that shares the elementary campus.

Principal Sara Michelena, who oversees both schools, has had initial discussions with teachers and other employees as well as parents, Rosander said. The concept, he said, is to “take the best of both campuses” and combine them into a single, high-performing charter school.

Rosander cited D2A’s enriched language and fine arts programs and DES’s music and traditional academic offerings as strengths that would be retained on a unified campus. Together, the schools have about 420 students.

He said parents and community members will be invited to a meeting before winter break at which the tenets of the new program will be laid out and questions can be asked.