By Vivian Bui
The propellers of the helicopter smashed the air with undeniable strength each time it spun in a continuous loop. From the shaking of the helicopter to the deafening noise that accompanied it, Diane Santamorena stood readying herself to plunge into the frigid ocean for her Navy rescue training.
“While it was scary, it was also exhilarating to know that I could do it if needed,” Santamorena said as she recalled this experience.
This was one of Santamorena’s many adventures before coming to San Marin High School to become the new assistant principal. This will be her eighth year working for the Novato Unified School District and she is coming in with many ideas and a strong desire to support students in their academic journeys. Santamorena has worked for education departments in Atlanta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
She is focused on encouraging project based learning this year and wants to provide every student with the support they need in order to succeed and have a safe and fun high school experience. As a leader she believes in the importance of acknowledging everyone’s opinion.
“Whenever possible I use facilitative leadership, which fosters input and decision making within the group,” said Santamorena. “It’s important for people to have a voice and be heard when change is involved.”
Santamorena said that a good school should always provide the students with the outlets that they need in order to help them grow as students and allow for greater success later on as adults. She also wishes to connect with students by getting to know them as less of a student and more as an individual person.
Outside of education, Santamorena has had a very eventful life, from once living abroad to being in the Navy. She spent time traveling Europe as part of her missions. At one of her duty stations, she lived in Rota, Spain for three years. She also enjoys golfing during her free time, and traveling because she likes to experience different cultures. As a creative outlet, she enjoys painting and photography although she says that those are skills that she would like work on because she has yet to master them.
Santamorena said that she is extremely proud of her sons, who she says are happy, successful adults who love their careers. Her eldest son works in Atlanta, Georgia as a Deputy Sheriff, as well as an officer in the Marine Corp Reserves. He also served in Iraq during his first year of college. Her younger son, who is stationed in Virginia, works as a Masters of Arms in the Navy. She is also proud of her own educational achievements as she was the first person in her family to receive a Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees, and is halfway towards earning her Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Walden.
Her acknowledgment of her administrative profession came when she was a classroom teacher and realized that she took on many leadership roles.
“That is when I realized that I could help support more students by working with more teachers,” she said. “The natural path to do this is administration.”
Despite having no motivation to go to college growing up and little encouragement to succeed, having reached this level of academic achievement serves as a reminder that, in her words, “Education is attainable for anyone who really wants it.”