Although Denair Elementary Charter Academy Principal Sara Michelena announced her intent to resign at the end of the school year, her dedication to making sure children succeed will not disappear, but rather refocus on helping a different class of children: her two young daughters.
Once the school year wraps up, Michelena said that she intends to become a full-time mother to her two adopted daughters, Elizabeth, 2, and Emily, 3, who has a mild form of 22q, which is a genetic condition that is caused by a small missing piece of the 22nd chromosome that has the potential to affect nearly every system in the body.
“Having two toddlers, I don’t anticipate much free time,” said Michelena, “but I so look forward to spending time with my girls and helping them learn and grow.”
Michelena’s decision to resign came to light on Friday, which was a time she said both suited her family and Denair Unified School District in providing enough notice to find her replacement.
“The time I have spent in Denair has really taught me how much heart a small district and community can have,” said Michelena. “I am very proud of the work we have done for our elementary children and opening DECA has been a unifying experience. Our staff is to thank—they are the hardest working people I know.”
Despite her intent to depart from the charter campus at the end of the school year, Michelena acknowledged that she still has a lot of goals to accomplish, one of which is seeing DECA gain acceptance from the No Excuses University Network, since she noted that 90 percent of her staff has attended an NEU Institute and has seen the power behind the program.
As the leader of elementary campus for the past two years, Michelena said that if she had to offer any words of wisdom to her replacement, it would be “to love the staff and students first, above all else.”
“DECA is off to an amazing start. We have grown enrollment and programs this year, which is good for everyone. Our financial picture is no longer ‘dire’ and we are on the road to recovery,” said Michelena. “The people of DCCA have so much heart for our students and we love our students first.”
DUSD Superintendent Aaron Rosander wished Michelena and her family the best following her resignation announcement, stating that “Sara’s warm personality, smile and work ethic will be missed” and that he knew her personal decision to leave the school district was not an easy one.
“The importance of her leadership at our elementary school can’t be overstated. In fact, her tireless work in writing the charter for DECA made this new school possible,” said Rosander. “Sara has been an important part of our district’s growth and success over the past two years, and she leaves us in esteemed standing.”
Michelena said that although she is not entirely sure what her future might hold in terms of her career, she said that she would “absolutely love” to return to Denair someday, whether it is as a parent or employee.
“Denair has given me so many opportunities and taught me so much,” said Michelena. “The wealth of knowledge I have gained has been immense and I am forever grateful.”