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Dear Parents, Guardians and Students,

On August 14, 2023 we will open the doors to students at Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School.  The first day of school has always been an exciting day for me.  As a student, I grew up in Madera, California and I always enjoyed going back to school because it meant that my brothers and I wouldn’t have to work in the fields anymore.  I worked as a farmworker on the weekends and during school breaks until I graduated from California State University, Fresno.  The work was hard, but I learned a lot about perseverance and about the benefits of an education.  

I have been able to achieve my goals in life because of my family. My parents taught me how to work in the fields, so that I could have opportunities that they didn’t have in Mexico.  My wife, Claudia has been my north star, helping me chart my path in life.  She has been my best friend and has supported me for over 20 years.  My sons, Alexander (14) and Christopher (12) have been my inspiration and motivation to always work for a better tomorrow.  They are incredible young men who have taught me to be a better person.  I am extremely thankful for my family because they have provided me with the foundation to lead our new school.

I am honored to serve as the first Principal at Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School, our newest school in Fresno Unified.  I have worked as an educator in the Central Valley for over 25 years.  I will draw upon my experience as a teacher, counselor and instructional leader every day as we work to make Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary a school of choice in Fresno Unified.

Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary is the kind of school that I wish I could have attended as a child.  As a student, I was often distracted, wishing that I could draw and create instead of just sitting and listening.  I would get in trouble in class for talking too much and drawing all over my work.  I was often uninterested in school because I was only exposed to reading and math.  I didn’t have an opportunity to study anything else until I went to Madera High School.  This will not be the case for our students at our new school.

Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School is a unique school in Fresno Unified because all our work is focused on STEAM.  Teachers will use science, technology, engineering, and the arts as they teach math and English Language Arts.  Students will have the opportunity to conduct research and learn about real world issues and problems as they work on projects. Content standards will be integrated so that teachers can maximize their instructional time and students can explore how we live in an interconnected world.

I look forward to working with the community to form partnerships with all stakeholders so that we can work together to ensure that every child becomes a life-long learner and reaches their academic potential through enriching curriculum, engaging hands-on activities, and inspiring teachers and staff.

It is my sincere privilege to serve as an instructional leader at Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School. I believe that a school environment that is collaborative, draws on the strength of all stakeholders and fosters a positive school climate will make a difference in the lives of all our students. I look forward to meeting and working with parents, guardians and community members to establish a tradition of excellence at our school.

I am confident that we are going to have a great first year at Herrera Elementary.  Go Hawks!!!

Miguel Naranjo Ed. D.

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