New principal walks the hall of Vale Elementary School

By John L. Braese

The Enteprise

VALE – Darbie Correia-Dennison added to the stress of the holidays

Just over two months ago, she became a grandmother for the first time and then just before the school holidays, Correia-Dennison accepted the job of as Vale Elementary School principal.

It’s a temporary assignment, filling in for Alisha McBride, who was recently named superintendent for the Vale district.

Correia-Dennison comes to Vale Elementary with more than 25 years of education experience, most of that time in local schools.

“I actually started my teaching career in Japan teaching English,” she said. “When I returned, I started teaching in Idaho and have been in the area since then.”

Correia-Dennison’s career include time in Annex as a superintendent/principal, associate principal at Ontario High School, school improvement specialist for the Malheur Education Service District and as a consultant for schools in the area of professional development.

She has also taught at Eastern Oregon University. Until accepting the Vale position, Correia-Dennison was executive director of the Angel Wings Network, a non-profit agency based in Weiser serving cancer patients, caregivers and survivors in rural communities. She is a survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“We had a rough year at Angel Wings financially, so I proposed to the board they cut my position,” said Correia-Dennison. “This opening at Vale worked out perfectly. It is rare to find a position midway through the school year.”

With just over one week on the job, Correia-Dennison said the staff have been welcoming and the students great.

“The minute I walked in, this school felt like home,” she said. “There is lots of energy with both staff and students and the kids have been so respectful.”

Correia-Dennison says her experience in professional development will be an asset to the staff.

“For the kids, I want them to have a smooth transition, almost like there is no transition at the principal level,” she said.

With the post currently only slated until the end of the school year, Correia-Dennison said she would welcome the opportunity to stay.

“We will see what happens down the road, but I really love this school,” she said.