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” »

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Rings True in Denair

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Talk about keeping a secret. For nearly a month, Air Force Airman Hannah Pointon, her former teacher Patti Morrissey and Denair Elementary School Principal Sara Michelena had been plotting how to surprise Pointon’s parents, Jody and Roger Jorge.

Pointon grew up in Denair. Her mother is the administrative assistant to the district superintendent. They are as close as mother and daughter can be. “She’s the other half of me,” is how Jody describes their bond.

So when Pointon told her parents before Thanksgiving that she wouldn’t be able to leave her base in San Antonio to come home for Christmas, it was an emotional blow. Jody, especially, was heartbroken. They never had been apart at the holidays. She and her Pointon talked and texted every day, but they didn’t expect to see each other until April.

Then Pointon’s plans changed. Only she didn’t tell her parents.

Instead, she reached out to Morrissey, whose fourth-grade students at Denair Elementary had “adopted” Pointon at the beginning of the school, just as Pointon, now 24, had done at the same age years ago to a soldier based in Iraq.

“It was all Hannah,” Morrissey said. “She texted me and said she was coming back, and it took off from there.”

Morrissey enlisted the help of Michelena, the school’s first-year principal, and the plans grew. Michelena had never met Pointon, but saw her mom almost every day. She knew how sad Jody Jorge was that her daughter wasn’t going to be home for Christmas. Continue reading ““I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Rings True in Denair” »

DPSC Hosts Craft Night at Denair Elementary School


Submitted by Denair Parent Service Club

Denair Elementary School’s annual Craft Night fundraiser will be hosted by Denair Parent Service Club (DPSC) and is set for Thursday, December 11, 2014 from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Elementary School gym. We hope you will join us at this fun filled event! There will be holiday crafts to make and a silent auction to bid on gift baskets. DPSC is accepting donations of items for the silent auction gift baskets. Santa will be at the festivities for photos. Water, soda, pizza and cookies will also be available.

Admission is free! Tickets for the activities and food can be purchased at the door for $1.00 each. Food items and a picture with Santa require 1 ticket each and crafts require 1-2 tickets each.

Money raised from this fundraiser will help pay for class fieldtrips, class supplies and technology.

If you are interested in helping out with craft night such as preparing baskets for the silent auction, selling food or helping with the craft tables, please complete this form and return it to your child’s teacher. Thank you for your support!!

Additionally, the English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC) is holding their first annual Tamale Sale on the same evening, from 6:00-8:30 pm.  Tamale sales are pre-sale and drive-thru only. Use the ELAC Tamale Order Form to pre-order your delicious tamales!

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.

A Class Act! 10 Questions for Kelly Beard

Kelly Beard

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Name: Kelly Beard

Family: My husband James and I have been married for 10 years, and we have a 4-year-old daughter who is in transitional kindergarten at Denair Elementary School.

School: Denair Elementary School

Subject taught: First grade

Experience and education: I graduated from Modesto Junior College with an AA. I then attended CSU Stanislaus where I received my BA in liberal studies with a concentration in English. I also minored in speech communications. I have a multiple subject teaching credential as well as a supplemental English authorization. I did my student teaching in Denair and was then hired to teach first grade. I have been teaching for 12 years, all of which have been in first grade at Denair Elementary School.

What most inspires you about teaching? What inspires me the most about teaching is seeing the excitement on my students’ faces when they have learned something new. Their excitement for learning inspires me to push myself and grow as a teacher.

What are your biggest challenges as a teacher? The biggest challenge is that there are too many great activities and projects that promote learning and never enough time to do them all!

What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? I love technology! A few of my favorite technology tools are my ELMO (document camera), projector and computer. We live in a technology-driven world and technology is a great way to engage students in learning. As much as I love technology, I also love a plain old piece of paper and a pencil. There is so much that we can learn and create using just the basics like paper and pencil.

How has Common Core affected your classroom strategy? Common Core has increased the amount of student conversations happening in the classroom. Students not only need to master concepts, but they need to be able to explain and defend the reasoning behind their answers. Common Core really allows students to think deeply and have meaningful conversations about their learning. Continue reading “A Class Act! 10 Questions for Kelly Beard” »