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Teacher at Heart
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Aug 13, 2013 | 1124 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Diane Dullanty endured her first day as principal of Spanish Springs Elementary School this week and said Tuesday she feels accepted by the surrounding community already.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Diane Dullanty endured her first day as principal of Spanish Springs Elementary School this week and said Tuesday she feels accepted by the surrounding community already.
Change was a common theme Monday when Washoe County School District schools returned to classes, given the first day came two weeks earlier than past years. Still, Spanish Springs Elementary School (SSES) added a major change to its Opening Day slate.

Diane Dullanty, former Assistant Principal at Desert Heights Elementary School in Stead, began her first day as Principal of SSES on Monday, welcoming her more than 700 students to the Sparks school. While the first day jitters could be felt throughout the school, Dullanty said she kept her nerves in check because of summer preparation.

“I think when you are in education, you are always a teacher at heart so you are used to working constantly,” Dullanty said Tuesday, adding that she kept in close contact with her new school while spending time with family this summer. “Even from the spring, when I got the position, I felt that I needed to connect right away. I was able to spend a few days meeting 1-on-1 with our staff members.

“I was able to do some community building and meet the staff and students before the first day. So over summer, I felt I had hit the ground running. It made the first day so much easier because I already had some connections with the community and the staff. I felt that I had already made some good relationships.”

Dullanty said her first day was “one of the quickest days” she had ever experienced and after helping students and parents get settled inside the school and classrooms, she made it a point to tour each classroom to introduce herself. Being visible among the students is a priority for Dullanty, but she said working with her administrators and teachers to continue improving the school’s environment nears the top of the list as well.

“When I sat down that first day, I wanted them to get to know me and and know what my expectations were for us as a community,” Dullanty said. “During those professional days, we talked about what we are doing here that we love -- things that no matter what, we don’t want to change. Then I built a poster about some things we might consider looking at or tweaking.

“When I talked to the staff, even in the spring, what came out repeatedly was how happy they are, how cohesive they are and I am not going to mess with something that is working. At the same time, I have had wonderful conversations with teachers who are coming up with wonderful ideas about maybe different paths we can take, but it is still in its infant stages.”

Dullanty said it is too soon to begin installing new programs at Spanish Springs Elementary before she has taken a good look at integral operations, but events will continue as scheduled beginning with a fundraiser on Thursday and Parent Night just around the corner. Dullanty said Parent Night will signal the “official” instatement of her position as principal.

“Though I am there every day and my door is open,” she said, “I answer my phone calls and I am out meeting parents. I am looking forward to being out there that night because I think we will get a huge support of parents who will show up. That is what I am most looking forward to.”

The community Dullanty has been introduced to and immersed in during her transition to SSES is one thing she raved about Tuesday afternoon. Only two days into the new school year, she is confident that the surrounding family support will remain constant.

“I haven’t worked out in this community before,” she said, “But I have noticed that we have had a lot of changes with the calendar, the bell schedule, the principal, the variances, and I can’t say enough about how resilient this community has been, how welcoming they have been to me and how adaptive they have been.

“When people come in, they are kind and supportive. And from Day 1, I have felt blessed. This is a great community and feel glad to be a part of it.”
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