Three years after opening Marengo Ranch Elementary School as principal, Janet Handley will soon say goodbye to her students and colleagues.
Handley, 45, recently accepted a job as curriculum coordinator for Natomas Unified School District in Sacramento.
Her last day at Marengo has yet to be decided.
"It's a big step up," she said. "I'm very excited." Handley's recent announcement surprised many Marengo staff members, she said.
"It's hard to leave because it's a great school district," she said.
Handley's ultimate career goal was to focus on curriculum, selecting textbooks and working to update teachers, she said.
She applied for the Natomas job not fully expecting to reach her goal early, she said.
"The position came sooner than I thought," she said.
Before opening Marengo Ranch, Handley spent three years as vice principal at River Oaks School and a year at Valley Oaks School.
She worked shortly in Natomas as a teacher and vice principal. She's also taught in Nebraska, New York and Oregon before coming to California more than a decade ago.
Handley lives in Elk Grove with her husband, Scott, and two children, 12-year-old Michael and 14-year-old Christina.
The educator will be missed in the district, said Superintendent Jeff Jennings.
She was an asset to Marengo, hiring the teaching staff when it first opened, Jennings said.
Filling her shoes may be a challenge because of the timing and the school being already in session, he said.
Jennings will discuss options with trustees to hiring another principal which could include having Terry Metzger, Marengo's vice principal, finish the school year, he said.
Pay ranges from $62,063 to $75,438 for a Galt elementary school principal, according to the district.
Some parents had mixed emotions Monday about Handley's impending departure.
"She's just a wonderful principal," said Karin Liu, Marengo's PTA president.
Liu said she is sad to see Handley leave, but she's excited about the educator's new prospects.
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