A New Era – Opening Day Brings a New Principal to Village Elementary

Whitney deSantis with Steve Patrick, a fifth grade teacher

As Coronado’s two public elementary schools, middle school and high school confronted the first day of a new year, Whitney DeSantis and Village Elementary faced a bit more.

It was DeSantis’ first official day as the new principal at Village Elementary.

She looked cool and confident as she waded into the crowd of students and parents assembled in the school’s playground, waiting for teachers to lead them to their classrooms. “I’m feeling great. Everything is going smoothly,” she said.

Indeed it was. Her new policy of opening the gates before school starts was well received. 

Instead of opening just before the bell rings, the gates were unlocked at 7:45 a.m., giving students 20 minutes to mingle with friends before the bell. Five minutes after that they’ll be in their classrooms “ready to learn,” DeSantis said.

“It’s a nice idea. The kids like to socialize at the beginning of the day. This way they get it out of their system before class begins,” said Rachel Oden, who had just said goodbye to her third and fourth graders.

For her the first day of school is like New Years Day. “It’s a fresh start, an opportunity to set new goals.”

For others, it was more than a new year, it was a whole new experience.

Thursday was Mary Rose Schulman’s first day as a teacher. She was full of excitement and anticipation as she looked down the list of second graders she would be working with this year.

 “I just love being around the children,” she said. “This is really exciting.”

Even old teaching hands were pumped. This is Lindsey Richter’s third year teaching visual and performing arts at Village. “I just love the flow of it,” she said.

The kids reacted, well, like kids. Some clung to their parents; others rushed to greet friends.

Federico Pedroza Jr. got there early with his father, Federico Sr., well before the gates opened. It was the first grader’s first day in a new school. Both were thrilled to be there and the elder felt some nostalgia.

“I started here at the same age as him,” his father said.

For Bryce Wenger, who went to Silver Strand Elementary School last year, Village will be a bit of an adjustment. “He’s used to something different,” his mother Kim said, “But by next week, this will all be old hat.”  

Beside the new hours, DeSantos has established a new ethos for her staff.     

She calls it the fish philosophy: Be there, choose your attitude, make their day and play.

It was an attitude she observed in fishmongers at Pike Place Market in Seattle. 

She wants her teachers to be happy, their students to be happy, and most of all she wants the youngsters to be as successful in their endeavors, whatever they may be, as those fishmongers in Seattle.