New Principal Naranjo Brings Personal Experience to DCA; LaFountain Takes Over at Middle School

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

More than most school administrators, David Naranjo knows what it’s like to be a teen-ager struggling to make his way in high school. That empathy comes from personal experience. Naranjo was once a high school dropout himself. He has felt the uncertainty and the disillusionment, and sensed the lowered expectations that others have for teens in that situation.

And he’s living proof that there is a way out. That difficult family or financial circumstances or poor choices made as a teen don’t have to determine the rest of your life. There is hope.

As the new principal at Denair Charter Academy, Naranjo wants to be a role model for his independent study high school students, many of whom confront similar challenges as he once did growing up in San Diego County.

“I tell them, ‘I was a high school dropout,’ ” Naranjo said. “I had a tough family situation, but I went back and graduated from a continuation school. I started college when I was 23 and became a straight-A student.

“I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school or college. If I was going to break the cycle of not graduating, that was on me. I took it very seriously. That’s the example I want to set today for our students.”

Officially, Naranjo’s title is senior director of student support services. In addition to his duties at DCA, he will oversee various state-mandated responsibilities for all of Denair Unified’s four campuses. But much of his initial focus will be on the staff and students at DCA, which offers home-school options for parents of students up to eighth grade in addition to independent study for high schoolers.

Naranjo replaces Brian LaFountain at DCA. LaFountain moves across the street to Denair Middle School as principal.

Naranjo comes to Denair from the Tuolumne County Office of Education. His new role reunites him with Denair Superintendent Aaron Rosander. Naranjo was principal of Mariposa High School and Woodland Elementary School when Rosander was the schools superintendent in that county. Continue reading “New Principal Naranjo Brings Personal Experience to DCA; LaFountain Takes Over at Middle School” »

Denair Unified Campuses to Host Open Houses on Thursday

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Thursday is Open House night across the Denair Unified School District — a chance for parents and community members to discover first-hand all the educational achievement occurring in Denair classrooms.

Here is the schedule:

Denair Elementary Charter Academy: 5 to 7:30 p.m. The event begins with a book fair, where parents can buy books for their sons and daughters. The Open House begins at 6 p.m.

Denair Middle School: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Teachers will be on hand to talk about what’s going on in their classrooms.

Denair High School: 6 to 9 p.m. Open House will be the first hour, followed by the annual awards ceremony starting at 7 p.m. in the Coyote Center. Dozens of students will be recognized for their academic performance and earning scholarships.

Denair Charter Academy: 6 to 7 p.m. Open House for the independent study program.

About 100 Enthusiastic Residents Celebrate Denair Night at Modesto Nuts Baseball Game

Submitted by Denair Charter Academy

It was Denair Night on Friday at the Modesto Nuts baseball game and about 100 hearty Denair residents and students braved a cold, windy night to support their community.

Denair Unified Superintendent Aaron Rosander threw out the honorary first pitch — a strike to home plate — as the crowd cheered.

The event was the brainchild of Brian LaFountain, the principal at Denair Charter Academy and, for the next month, at Denair Middle School. Special tickets were sold for $7. The money raised will help offset a portion of the cost of the first-ever DCA graduation trip May 18-19 at Magic Mountain.

Beard Takes Over as Denair Elementary Principal; LaFountain Temporarily Moves to Middle School Campus

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Kelly Beard, who began this school year as the first-time principal at Denair Middle School, will finish out the year as principal at Denair Elementary Charter Academy.

Beard spent 13 years as a first-grade teacher on the elementary campus before moving into an administrative role last summer. She replaces Lucy Zamora, who resigned to care for a family member facing a health crisis.

Beard’s appointment is permanent, Denair Unified Superintendent Aaron Rosander said Friday afternoon after a joint meeting with the staffs from the elementary and middle schools.

“We wish Ms. Zamora the very best as she navigates the challenges ahead,” Rosander said.

Brian LaFountain, the principal at Denair Charter Academy, will temporarily fill Beard’s position at the middle school for the final month of classes. Recruitment to hire a full-time principal already has begun, Rosander said. He hopes to have a new leader hired by early June.

“DMS is sure to be in good administrative hands for the remainder of the school year,” Rosander said. “Mr. LaFountain will return to DCA for the 2017/18 school year.”

Beard takes over a DECA campus that, along with the independent study program at DCA, has fueled the district’s enrollment growth the past two years. Part of the appeal to parents at DECA has been the addition of a dual immersion language program in which students are taught in English and Spanish. Each year, another grade level is added. The first students will be in second grade next fall.

The charter school also features traditional classes for kindergartners through fifth-graders. All students are introduced to the concepts promoted by the No Excuses University program, which aims to instill a college-going culture in youngsters.

“Kelly is well-liked and respected, and definitely will be welcomed back,” Rosander said. “All the programs that have been added the past few years will remain.”

Class Act! 10 Questions for Melissa Oei

Melissa Oei

Submitted by Denair Middle School

Name:  Melissa Oei

Family: Husband, Bob; sons, Paul and Jonathan

School: Denair Middle School

Position: Campus Supervisor

Experience/education: This will be my 11th year with Denair Unified School District.  I was raised in England and went to Windsor and Maidenhead College of further education followed by Reading University.  Although my background is in banking and accounting, I love my job here as the campus supervisor.  I am able to be out and about around our campus. Although my primary duties are safety and discipline, I am lucky enough to be able to see some of the great things going on in the classrooms.

What most inspires you about working at Denair Middle School? These are the transition grades/years for students. The students are no longer the “little kids” in elementary school and they are not yet the “big kids” at high school.  These are the introductory years to more intense studies, new school sports and sometimes changes within their social groups. I love being a part of this transition period where I can be a part of a staff /team who are helping students to grow, become more confident and be ready for their next adventure!

What are your biggest challenges as a classified staff member? I think that sometimes the classified staff is somewhat overlooked. Although they are often behind the scenes, they are an integral part of our school’s success.

What is your favorite activity/event at DMS ? I love all of the sporting events we have here, where our students and parents come together and have a fun time!

What do you want your students to remember? That there are always two sides to a story, never listen to gossip, and always have compassion and respect for others.

How can parents support what you do? Everyday ask your child “how was your day?” Communicate with the office any worries or concerns that they may have about their child’s day.  Be especially aware of the ever-changing social media sites and check what their child is doing on those social media sites.  Remind their child/children to please follow the outside safety rules by using the crosswalks and only using the drop off/pick up zones for getting in and out of vehicles.  Safety first! Continue reading “Class Act! 10 Questions for Melissa Oei” »