ENCINITAS — The Cardiff School has a new principal for the first time in 26 years.
With the first day of school less than a week away, the Cardiff School District announced Michelle Giroux will be taking over the reins left by the former principal of 26 years, Julie Parker.
Giroux arrived in the Cardiff School District via the Romoland School District in Menifee, CA with her husband, also a new principal at Breeze Hill Elementary in Vista, and their two children.
Giroux also served as principal of Harvest Valley Elementary School in Menifee from 2014 to 2019.
“Mrs. Giroux’s background in educational leadership combined with her positive energy and passion for educating children made her an excellent choice to lead Cardiff School,” said Jill Vinson, Cardiff School District superintendent, in a statement. “This is going to be such an exciting year for students at Cardiff School. In addition to a new principal, students will enjoy the first full school year in our beautiful new classrooms, playgrounds and lunch area. We’re all looking forward to this new chapter.”
The departure of longtime principal Parker, a stalwart in the Cardiff community, can cast a long shadow on the culture she helped to create at the school. Giroux, however, is ready to begin welcoming her students and families with the same vigor as her predecessor.
“Julie definitely has a huge presence here and will for a very long time,” Giroux told The Coast News. “The staff here grew up with her. That was my message to them when I arrived, that I am here to learn from you.”
Parker’s presence will be permanently memorialized in the Cardiff School as part of the school’s play area is rededicated in her honor.
The “Julie Parker Wall Ball Courts” will now hold the name of the retired principal who would often be seen playing wall ball with her students during breaks.
The courts, along with other upgrades to the school’s play areas, were completed using funds from Measure GG passed by Cardiff voters in 2016.
“Julie was an integral part of the completion of the upgrades to Cardiff School. In addition, she loves the game of wall ball and has helped cultivate the sport as an integral part of the school culture. It is more than fitting for the wall ball courts to bear her name,” Board President Siena Randall said.
Giroux seems interested in keeping the wall ball tradition alive but is not as confident in her skills.
“I definitely like to play wall ball. But the kids are probably going to beat me, which will be fun for them,” Giroux said.
The Cardiff School returns for the first day of class on August 17 in what everyone hopes will be a full year of in-person learning as schools continue to adjust to mandates and restrictions with the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Cardiff School District has said it will follow state and local guidelines in regards to the pandemic.
Giroux is happy to continue riding the wave that brought her to her dream job.
“I feel like I’m at home,” Giroux said. “I just feel like this is where I was meant to be.”