Penryn School welcomes its new leader

By: Kathy Maynard, Loomis News Correspondent
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A new school principal had no idea what an adventure her family’s move to Loomis would be.

Not only did a flood push Cara Alfonso, her husband, Jason, and 3-year-old twins, Brandon and Briana, from their new home and into a hotel four days, but within a month Alfonso left her job in the San Juan Unified School District to become Penryn Elementary School’s new principal in September.

“The first week we had a minimum day on Friday because of Del Oro’s homecoming and I got to ride on the float. It was fun and I was happy the kids wanted to show me off, but I thought, ‘Here I am in the middle of the day, sitting on a float in Loomis. Where have I just landed?’”

Alfonso grew up in Orangevale, graduated from Casa Robles High school in 1995, earned her undergraduate degree from University of California, Davis and her master’s in education at National University.

She taught second, third and fifth grades at Dry Creek Elementary in Rio Linda before becoming assistant to the principal and a site-based curriculum coach. Last year, she became vice principal at a  kindergarten to grade 8 school, in the San Juan Unified School District.

“We had already bought the house when I just happened to see the Penryn position open up and thought, ‘What the heck, why not try?’ I really believe in neighborhood schools and wanted to work and be a part of the community where my kids attend school,” she said.

“I knew I could do it, but didn’t expect to get the job. I just thought I’d start getting my name out and get exposure to be in a good position if something opened up down the line. I’m excited to be here, it’s been an unexpected opportunity and a blessing.”

Alfonso said she immediately noticed that Penryn is a tight-knit, family-oriented community.

“This school is truly the community hub where people gather. It is small, with 229 students and one teacher and roughly 25 kids in each grade, which is very different for me. Where I was before, there were three or four teachers per grade level,” she said. 

Having found lots of good things going in Penryn, Alfonso said she just wants to maintain the unity with staff, teachers and families. Her long-term goal is to “lift and lead,” by adding to what they already have to keep things growing and moving in a positive direction.

“I have energy, a strong work ethic and love what I do. I want to bring that to the Penryn staff and teachers and keep it fun so we enjoy what we do. I’m collaborative and hands on. It’s about all of us working together and how I can collaboratively work with the teachers on their goals and on what they want here,” she said.

Alfonso said her family likes the small town feel of living in Loomis. Her husband Jason, a financial planner, grew up in Loomis and graduated from Del Oro High School in 1991. They moved here to be close to his parents; her sister, whose children attend Franklin School; and her mother, who lives nearby.

“We have about an acre of land on a private lane in a great family-oriented block. The kids can run free, ride their bikes, be outdoors, play in the creek and do all kinds of things that were not possible where we lived before. My husband says it’s like a high school reunion being able to reacquaint himself with some classmates and their kids. We are liking it a lot.”