Michael DeFrancesco HJH

Michael DeFrancesco

The Healdsburg Unified School District has announced the selection of Michael DeFrancesco as the new principal for Healdsburg Junior High School. DeFranesco takes over for Bill Halliday, who will be moving to the top spot at Healdsburg High School.

According to a statement from the district, DeFrancesco holds a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from San Francisco State University. He began his teaching career as a high school social studies teacher in Michigan before moving west to teach junior high and high school in Anderson Valley and later at the Marin County Office of Education.

The statement continues that after spending 10 years in the classroom, DeFrancesco moved into educational administration, serving as assistant principal at Park Middle School in Antioch and Alhambra High School in Martinez. In 2014, he was named principal of Martinez Junior High School. As principal, he led his school through the transition to common core based teaching practices, implemented an educational technology program, and was credited with creating a culture of shared vision amongst the staff, parents and students. These efforts were recognized in 2015, when, under his leadership, Martinez Junior High School was accredited by the State of California with a Gold Ribbon School Award.

The statement also adds that DeFrancesco is known as an impassioned leader and a strong advocate for students. The statement says he has a passion for addressing the needs of the whole student — academic, social and emotional and to that end, he has successfully implemented programs addressing student social-emotional health, focusing specifically on character development and resiliency.

“He has a proven track record of leadership and innovation and is highly collaborative in the context of working in a small community,” HUSD Superintendent Chris Vanden Heuvel said. “He’s experienced at 21st century learning strategies that are students centered, especially inquiry and project-based learning and the integration of project-based learning in to the classroom.”

According to Vanden Heuvel, DeFrancesco is in the process of moving to the Healdsburg area with his wife, who is a school psychologist, and their two children. DeFrancesco was selected out of approximately 30 applicants. “We’re excited to have him on the team,” Vanden Heuvel said.

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