Fountain to fill mighty big shoes
First-year principal takes over at Monte Vista for Jane Wheeler, who retired after 23 years of service
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By Natalie Gray  August 23, 2013 12:00 am

This year will no doubt be filled with many firsts for everyone, especially for the kids of the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District. 

Wednesday, Aug. 21, was the first day of school for students; Tuesday, Aug. 20, the first day back for their teachers. Maybe this will be some students’ first time ever at school and maybe a few parents’ first time dropping their kids off for a full day of class. Perhaps the most notable school-related first-time, though, is being had by Sarah Fountain, incoming principal of Monte Vista Elementary School. It is her first year at Monte Vista, and it is her first year serving as a school principal.


Always something different

“One of the things I love so much about education is nothing is ever stagnant; it’s always changing,” Fountain said as she sat in her office with a desk already full of work. 

But the walls are still nearly blank, framed photos of her family resting on the ground, waiting patiently to be hung. There are two frames already on the wall – Fountain’s teaching credential and the teaching credential of her late grandmother, received in 1929. Of her grandmother’s credential, she said, “It helps remind me of why I’m here.”

Fountain has been working in education for 14 years now, having gotten her degree and credential at Sonoma State University. She began teaching in the Vallejo area, but transferred to Petaluma, where she taught third and fourth grade. During her time teaching, Fountain also went back to SSU to get her Masters and credential in Special Education.

“I will never stop taking classes and never stop learning,” Fountain said.

According to Fountain, she has taken a few leadership courses and has filled a couple of leadership roles in her former schools. She felt the next step in her career was a permanent leadership role.


Immediately impressed with RP

She began searching the area for jobs and found herself drawn to the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. She was impressed with what she saw, from the classrooms, the students, the district and, of course, the teachers.

“I’ve met the (other elementary school principals) and, let me tell you, what a great team I have joined,” she said. “I’m finding out really quick that the other elementary school principals are a really solid team.”

Fountain is entering Monte Vista with an open mind, respectful of many of the aspects and qualities that she fell in love with of the elementary school, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a few changes in mind. 

First, Fountain said she wants to strive to create a more dynamic community…a community within the school between teachers, staff and students…a community between the school and parents and even relations between the school and the Cotati-Rohnert Park community.

Second, Fountain plans to find a successful way to incorporate technology into Monte Vista’s lesson plans. She wants her school’s students to use modern technology in more than just the computer lab, maybe by incorporating school text books in e-form by use of Kindles or iPads. 


Wants students to stay modern

According to Fountain, she finds it very important for students to stay within the times and fluent in the workings of modern technology.

Fountain said her excitement for the upcoming year with her new school and her first steps as new principal far outweigh any nerves and concerns she may have. After some consideration, she said her only fear would be trying to fill the shoes of former principal Jane Wheeler, who served as principal for 23 years at Monte Vista. Wheeler and Fountain met multiple times before Wheeler’s official retirement from the elementary school, and said she felt confident that their visions and goals for Monte Vista are the same.

Fountain lives in Santa Rosa with her husband of 11 years, Craig, and their two children, Alexander, 8, and Olivia, 4.

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