New Head at Winston Dena Arrives With Vision
Ann Gardner | Via Latin
New head of The Winston School, Dena Harris, M.Ed. Photo Ann Gardner
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There is a new face at The Winston School in Del Mar. Dena Harris, an experienced charter school founder and administrator with expertise in special education, was hired last summer as Winston’s new Head of School and Executive Director. As important, she brings experience in community collaboration in facilities development and is working on her Ph.D in educational leadership that focuses on facilities management. Harris believes that the right physical environment of schools enhances not only the students’ learning but provides opportunities for shared activities in their communities.
Winston is leasing 1.8 acres and its existing buildings at the corner of 9th and Stratford, from the City of Del Mar; the lease runs until 2063 and envisions a new master plan for the property. Dena is meeting with the City (“our landlord”) and the Shores Advisory Committee advocating for a more collaborative approach to both the Shores Park and Winston School’s master planning processes. Her experience in working with different agencies has made her an advocate for multiple use, shared access planning. Joint planning, rather than design in isolation, benefits both the school and the community, she stresses. For example in Del Mar, the School and the Park might plan a Community Garden to be developed and maintained by both Winston students and residents. Or a kitchen for culinary learning and experience for both students during the day and residents in the evening or on weekends.
Winston is well known for its customized learning for children with different learning styles: visual, auditory, logical or verbal for instance. About 115 students are enrolled at Winston, a private college preparatory school for grades 5-12. A majority go on to college. “The kids and the programming are great, but the buildings are old. I want to build on Winston’s first 20 years and make it a national model for students with learning differences in the arts, music and educational programs. I believe the learning opportunities are going to explode at Winston,” she said in a recent interview.
Before joining Winston Dena was chief executive officer of San Diego Global Vision Academies, a non-profit public charter school organization serving 320 elementary and middle school students. She grew up in California, and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz and San Diego State University. She later earned her teaching and specialist education credentials. She is a board member and vice chair of a Charter School Facility Committee which awards $350 million of Prop Z Bond funding to charter schools and reviews all charter facility development applications. Along the way she had been a classroom teacher, an educational computer consultant and a board member of the international dyslexia association. She also plays the piano, guitar and even drums, and with a fine arts degree did scientific illustrations. Dena and her husband have four young children. Welcome to Del Mar, Dena!