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Schools (Almost) In - Classes Start Monday
0814 DENT 1
Third grade teacher Becky Head puts the finishing touches on her classroom, getting it ready in preparation for Mondays start of the 2013-14 school year. Teaching this year at Dent Elementary, she has logged many hours this summer organizing the room. Marg Jackson/The Times

Becky Head has spent much of the summer in her classroom.

And she couldn’t be happier about it.

Head, back to teach third grade at Dent Elementary this year, is putting the final touches on her classroom, which has been refurbished, had new carpet installed and has gotten a good ‘once over’ by the teacher.

She has been a nomad for the district, one of those teachers that has had to deal with perennial pink slips when state funding was uncertain, one of those grateful to have been brought back.

“This used to be a resource room and the after school program room, it was divided,” she said of her new, large classroom.

Now that she has a chance to settle in, she has made the room her own.

“Last year I was at Collegeville,” Head added. “The last five years, I have taught Dent third grade, El Portal sixth grade language arts, El Portal intervention and electives, Dent kindergarten, Collegeville kindergarten-first combo and this year, back to third grade at Dent, back to where it started.”

Like many teachers, Head is getting ready for the start of the new school year. Classes at all Escalon Unified School District sites start on Monday, Aug. 19.

“It feels wonderful, it really does,” Head said of knowing she has a classroom and a job. “Knowing what my position was going to be early in the summer was huge, very helpful.”

Head seized the opportunity to make the classroom uniquely hers, putting up plenty of charts and graphs and getting ‘bragging’ areas ready for her students, to put up their artwork and projects throughout the year.

“We took (family) vacation late June into early July and since then, I’ve been coming in about three days a week,” Head explained of taking her time to settle in and prepare for a new group of students. “I came because it felt good, it felt joyful to me.”

As far as the district itself, Superintendent Ron Costa said a variety of summer work projects have been completed, the staff is ready to go and administrators have had their annual retreat and will go in to the year with a game plan to meet student needs, focus on common core standards and get ready for an early 2014 WASC accreditation visit.

“Staffs are all working on last minute details to get everything ready for school,” Costa said. “We have resurfaced the playground and a parking lot at El Portal, done structural work on portable classrooms at Farmington and Van Allen, and we are replacing our big refrigerator and freezer in the Dent food service kitchen.”

Along with that work, Costa said there have been many smaller scale projects going on throughout the summer, from upgrading of bathrooms to painting to carpet cleaning and general custodial work.

Costa said the district will also welcome many new staff members this year, including a new district psychologist, Ricardo Chavez; high school ag teacher Rex Mendonca; high school science teacher Matthew Cantrell; high school English teacher Karly Perino; and El Portal additions, Ken Baptista for social studies and Jason Jericoff for science.

Administrative changes include bringing in a new assistant principal, Anna Ellerson, for Dent and Farmington, with Kendra Helsley remaining the Dent principal but adding Farmington to her duties. Scott Ferreira remains principal at Van Allen and also picks up Collegeville.

“The district this year is starting a home school and Jennifer Driscoll from Dent moved over to oversee that and start that program, that will be for students in kindergarten through fifth grade,” Costa said.

Between the new home school and the charter school now in its second year of operation, the district has close to 100 students enrolled, helping offset losses in the traditional K-12 enrollment.

Start times for each school vary in the district, but all will be open for business on Monday. Schools are Escalon High School, Vista Continuation, Sierra View Alternative Ed, El Portal Middle School and Dent, Farmington, Collegeville and Van Allen elementary schools.