New principals lead elementary schools in developing school culture and identity

Two new elementary school Principals have accepted the challenge to lead and serve as the heart of their schools.
Photos by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express Jennifer Kloczko (left) is the new Principal at Waggoner Elementary and Monica Moreno (right) is the new Principal at Shirley Rominger Intermediate this year.

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This school year the two new Winters elementary school principals have quite a task at hand. They have accepted the challenge to lead staff and students on a journey to develop their school sites’ own identity, mold and shape school culture, and serve as the heart of the school. Jennifer Kloczko is the principal at Waggoner Elementary School

Waggoner Elementary School which now is a TK (Transitional Kindergarten) through second grade school. She said in her career as an educator, she has spent the most time in these early elementary years and is excited to learn and work alongside teachers.

Kloczko has experienced the Winters school community through her involvement in a past project. She said the changes at Waggoner allow staff to really focus on the foundation literacy skills of TK through second grade and support student achievement.

“Helping to develop literacy across the curriculum is a passion for me,” said Kloczko.

Kloczko grew up in a home where both of her parents were educators and playing “school” as a teacher was one of her favorite past times. She said her dad, who has been both her middle school principal and educational teacher, is her greatest inspiration and influence as an educator. She said it’s been helpful to have someone who has been everything from a teacher to a principal in both big and small districts.

“When he was teaching me in that first (college) class I was thinking ‘Gosh, he knows a lot of stuff. I had no idea,’” said Kloczko. “He’s been very encouraging over the years. He’s really inspired me a lot to be in education.”

Kloczko said her theory in working with youth as an educator is she wants every student to grow from wherever they are. Her goals for the staff include making an effort to learn where students are beginning and providing each student appropriate challenges giving them the opportunity to grow.

“Students come with different skill sets and talents. We want every student to grow,” said Kloczko. “There’s no other job that prepares kids for every other job. We’re preparing for their future and making a difference. It’s so exciting to watch them grow and learn. It’s rewarding. It’s a lot of fun.”

Monica Moreno is taking on the new principal position at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School which now hosts third through fifth grade. She is looking forward to guiding the school to move forward with the new addition of third graders and supporting staff to help students reach achievement goals.

In her career as an educator Moreno has worked to develop a 50:50 dual immersion program model at a school in Oakland where she served three years as an assistant principal and four years as the principal. Most recently she was serving as an assistant principal in Antioch.

She decided she wanted to return to a role as a principal. The opportunity opened in Winters and she applied because she wanted to work in a small community where she could have the most impact.

She said education is an important family value. As a child Moreno grew up watching her mother go to college as a single parent, obtain a masters degree and enter the work field as a social worker. She said she has seen how education opens doors for many people and serve as an agent of change for all ages.

Moreno said her mother has been one of her greatest inspirations. She watched her mother work with at risk youth and seeing how she helped so many children she knew she wanted to go into a field where she could have a great impact working with youth.

As an educator Moreno has felt it was important for her students to see themselves in her. She said when she was a teacher in Bay Point she decided she wanted to have a bigger impact on children than just the 24 children in her class and she took action to get her administer credentials and masters.

Similar to Kloczko, Moreno’s theory on working with youth is to build upon the assets and strengths students bring with them.

“Every student comes with a strength. It’s really tapping into each student and having them grow through their strength,” said Moreno.

Moreno also has goals to help support and grow the bilingual education program with her bilingual and dual immersion experience.

Both Moreno and Kloczko realize they have big shoes to fill, but their experiences as educators give them an opportunity to bring new perspective and opportunity to the table for staff, students and families.

Moreno said everyone will be growing this year, including herself, staff and students. She is excited to be in a small school where she will have a chance to get to know every student and every family.

Kloczko said she is planning to continue the fun things and traditions that celebrate students, but is also excited to bring new things.

“We may not even realize all of the opportunities to dream big and make things better,” said Kloczko.

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