Despite only having been part of Pine View staff for a single school year, Elementary Assistant Principal Erin del Castillo has left a tremendous impact on the Pine View community. With various endeavors under her belt such as the Up With Books literacy partnership with Alta Vista to simply supporting students and staff, del Castillo will have much to say goodbye to as she takes the position of Venice Elementary Principal. She will begin working at the school June 8 to succeed Theresa Baus, who retired in December.
Prior to her time at Pine View, del Castillo worked as the Assistant Principal of Riverview High School for five years. As she gained experience as an assistant principal, del Castillo felt prepared to take on a position as principal. She applied for multiple open positions throughout the county, and while she had placed in the top two during the selection process for several schools, she did not receive a placement. The school district then offered del Castillo the position of Pine View’s grade two through five assistant principal in order for her to gain elementary school experience. “I just felt like last year I was ready [for a principal position], but it didn’t happen. I wanted that new experience, which I got at Pine View. And this year, I really felt like I was ready after being at Pine View,” she said. “It’s really bittersweet, because I’m happy to grow as a principal and work with Venice Elementary staff and students, but it’s sad. I feel like a senior right now. It’s sad because you’re leaving your Pine View family to try a new opportunity.”
Fifth-grader Chloe Ratner said, “I don’t want her to leave. She’s only been here for a year and I wish she could stay longer.”
As assistant principal, del Castillo has implemented a school-wide service project with the Title I school Alta Vista. Her Up With Books project has helped combat trends within lower socioeconomic households, of which cause children to perform below grade level. Even after her leave, del Castillo will ensure that the project continues at Pine View by passing it down to her successor. She also hopes to create a similar partnership between Venice Elementary and a second Title I school south of Osprey.
While del Castillo mainly worked with high schools prior to her time at Pine View, she decided to pursue a career at the elementary level due to the ability to make a high impact early on. “There’s something appealing to me about working with children and working with families to help them be successful. Because, by the time you all get to high school, you’re kind of set in your ways. A lot of the foundational skills are already done. So, for me being at the elementary level, I can really help families and do early intervention earlier, rather than waiting until they’re 14, 15 or 16 years old,” she said.
The influence del Castillo has made on students and teachers has not gone unnoticed. Second-grade teacher Sharyn Jankovsky said, “I’m very sad that she’s leaving, but we’re happy to see her promoted to being a principal. She fell in love with some of the students I have… She is just overall really sweet and we will miss her dearly.”
Del Castillo looks forward to working with her new community at Venice. “I’m just really excited to work with the staff, the students and families and continue on that culture of excellence that they have there…It’s am incredible community, and I’m just hoping to build on that, what they already have,” she said.
Story by SUZANNE BROWN and ADIL SAGEER