The end of the school year at Williams Upper Elementary School is a time for celebration. For students, it is the advancement to the next grade. For Principal Denise Conrado, it is the start of retirement.
The popular administrator received accolades at the school board’s May 17 meeting. Her last day on the job will be June 8.
“I’m grateful for all the opportunities that I have had in Williams to grow as a professional and an educator,” Conrado said, after Superintendent Edgar Lampkin presented her with a plaque. “I’m grateful for the awesome staff that I worked with. They are a group of professionals that have worked hard to do what is right for the students. I’m looking forward to observing and watching our students grow to their full potential. I really appreciate Dr. Lampkin and the board for all they are doing for the students in here in Williams.”
Conrado has worked in the education field for nearly 40 years. She started in the Woodland Unified School District as an office clerk and site secretary. She also worked as an office clerk for Yuba Community College, at the Colusa campus, and as a receptionist at the office of the Colusa County Superintendent of Schools.
She is married to Ed Conrado, former Burchfield Primary and Egling Middle School principal, who retired after 38 years in education.
The couple has four daughters: Emily Conrado, of Brentwood, a museum curator who has two daughters of her own; Molly Conrado, of Colusa, who teaches fourth grade at Arbuckle Elementary School; Sara Azevedo, of Maxwell, a Special Ed teacher, also with a baby girl; and Katie Conrado, of Jedda, Saudi Arabia, who teaches fifth grade.
While raising her family and going to school to become a teacher, Conrado worked for the Colusa Unified School District as a typist clerk, library aide, and substitute teacher. She was also a parent volunteer.
Conrado earned her bachelor’s degree and teaching credential at age 40, and began her teaching career 21 years ago. She continued going to school and earned my master’s degree and administrative services credential seven years ago.
“With my husband’s and my daughters’ support, I have had a career that I have loved.” Conrado said. “I never regretted coming to WUSD from CUSD 13 years ago. I cherish my experiences in this close-knit school community. There is much that I will miss about my job, especially the students, the amazing office staff, and the dedicated, hard-working teachers at Williams Upper Elementary school. The District is experiencing growing pains at this time, and I am sorry that I will miss the growth that will come from this pain. We have awesome students in this district; we get compliments about their behavior while on field trips, from outside vendors who work with our staff, and from the naturalists at Shady Creek.”
Lampkin said Conrado has done an incredible job providing leadership as the school implements a program that provide opportunities for all students to practice specific life skills, such as caring, common sense, cooperation, initiative, respect, and responsibility, through a direct, systematic and positive focus.
The goal of the program is to empower students to become positive and productive members of their school and community by improving social relationships, fostering mutual cooperation, and developing a sense of self to make healthy life choices.
“We’re trying to work at changing the culture in our schools and our school district, and (Conrado) is the individual that has truly done that the last couple of years,” Limpkin said. “She has modeled that behavior, and expected that behavior from her staff. And her staff has done the same. They modeled that behavior, and acknowledged that behavior in their students.”
Although Conrado said it didn’t seem possible that it was time to retire, she said she did look forward to having more time to travel, spend time with her grandchildren, and doing some community service. n