As the Denair Unified School District continues to work toward healing the relationship between the teachers association and district leadership, evident by a recent deal struck between the two after over a year of negotiations, there is a new key factor that will serve as an agent of even more change in the ‘new Denair’ : Aaron Rosander.
Hailing from Mariposa where he served as superintendent most recently, Rosander will now serve as superintendent of DUSD and aims to fortify the District using his extensive background in education as an anchor.
“I always thought Denair was such a friendly community and a great rivalry in sports for us in Mariposa, but always a great sense of camaraderie at the same time. So when this position came up, I had always looked back at Denair with fond memories and found it to be an easy jump,” said Rosander.
While Rosander found the transition to Denair an easy adjustment, he knew full well the gravity of the District’s financial situation he would encounter. However, financial crisis is not new to Rosander. After serving as superintendent in the Tulare school district, Rosander returned to Mariposa to lead the district through its own fiscal crisis, which bore similar stripes to a potential state takeover at Denair. After many difficult decisions including closing three schools and furloughing teachers, Mariposa now has a balanced budget and good financial standing due to Rosander’s leadership. While Rosander acknowledges that Denair’s situation is not identical to Mariposa’s, he fully expects to make the hard decisions down the road that need to be made to restore Denair to a healthy fiscal state and will rely heavily on his own experience teaching to do so.
“This District has faced a lot of adversity and a lot of hard decisions have been made, and we’re going to disagree but we don’t have to be disagreeable as I like to say,” said Rosander.
Rosander’s background in education dates back to the 1980s when he received his bachelor’s degree in Health and Natural Science from California State University, San Jose and went on to teach at-risk youth in Hollister for seven years. During that time Rosander was named Continuation Teacher of the Year in all of California.
“The at-risk students that I worked with needed to know that I bought into them as a person on a personal level. In education we are in a business of people and it is about building rapport and relationships. The kids need to feel like the administration is in their corner rooting for them,” said Rosander. “And at this point in Denair we are trying to form a relationship between the board and the association. We want to build trust and communication.”
Rosander’s experience in continuation education served as a foundation for his future endeavors in education that included teaching high school biology, serving as activities director and assistant principal and then principal. Rosander’s experience at the different levels of education has contributed to his hands-on approach to education.
“To be effective you have to be in the trenches,” said Rosander, a self-proclaimed teacher and educator at heart. “It’s not beneath me to go in the classroom and say ‘Hey, can I teach for a few days?’”
True to form, Rosander has spent several days touring the District’s classrooms before assuming his official role on Monday, and has spent hours in the classroom and even seen a school play already.
“What drives me at the essence of all of this is being connected to kids and instructional staff and understanding who we are and where we want to go,” said Rosander.
Rosander also aims to open communication lines for parents whom he views as an integral part to the education system and especially necessary to heal Denair. Rosander will be hosting town hall meetings for parents to voice concerns as well as administering anonymous surveys to all stakeholders for feedback from the community at large.
“I think Denair is a diamond in the rough and I believe this district is 18 months away from being in a much more solid financial state, said Rosander. “We’re going to put this little district back on the map.”