Sara Lucero was selected as the new principal of Olympic View Elementary School. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Sara Lucero was selected as the new principal of Olympic View Elementary School. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

New principal: Impactful teachers at elementary level are the ‘foundation’

When talking to Olympic View Ele-mentary School’s newly selected principal, her care and concern for students is evident as she talks about some of her past experiences.

Sara Lucero’s eyes welled slightly as she explained the progress she’s seen in her students over the four years she’s been at the helm of two elementary schools simultaneously in Miles City, Mont.

“Everything I do is based on relationships,” Lucero said.

Connecting with students, parents, staff and the community at large are all high priorities for her, she said.

Her vision for Olympic View will be shaped by the people in it as she gets to know the school and its students and teachers.

She was inspired to apply for the job because of the programs the school already has in place, such as the garden, the bird watching club and the PTA’s regular family nights.

Lucero has known she wanted to go into elementary education since she was in second grade. Although she also considered becoming a judge at that time, she ended up receiving teaching credentials.

She started as a high school Title One teacher and then taught third grade for eight years.

Elementary education stood out to her because of its role as a launching pad for the rest of children’s educational careers. She said the role of an impactful teacher on young minds became apparent as soon as she started.

“It’s the foundation for everything,” Lucero said.

The schools she runs now serve pre-kindergartners through second graders. She’s able to witness the difference in students who came there as young as 3 years old and left at 7 or 8.

She moved on to administration to make a difference on a school-wide level.

“A positive school leader can be really impactful for a school,” she said. “And I like to be impactful.”

When deciding to make the move to Oak Harbor, her research into the city and Whidbey Island also helped motivate her to apply.

“The Oak Harbor community is small enough that it still provides that community feel (and) big enough that it has some great services,” she said.

She also appreciated the opportunities the district has to offer her 11-year-old daughter Taryn Lucero, who will be joining Oak Harbor Intermediate next year. Although Lucero doesn’t start until July 1, on Thursday and Friday the family came from Montana to tour Olympic View and the intermediate school.

She said multiple people from the district — including other principals, staff at her new school and members of the administration, like Superintendent Lance Gibbon — have reached out and already established a connection.

“I have never felt so welcome,” she said. “It’s been amazing.”

She, her husband Beez Lucero, Taryn Lucero and their dog Bloom love to go on adventures, she said. Sara Lucero said she’s looking forward to hiking, riding the ferries to nearby destinations and learning to paddle board.

As for her future students, she wants them to feel like part of the family as well. When she discussed some of the children she has worked with, she said many of them came from traumatic backgrounds.

She talked about the importance of that “little person” feeling safe the moment he or she gets to school.

“I think it’s really about making sure that students understand that no matter what, even on those worst days, that they can always start over,” she said.

“They need to be held accountable for actions, but they’re always going to be loved and taken care of.”