Hundreds came out to Wilshire Park Elementary School to wish Principal Enrique Franco goodbye after 33 years of service, even the family dog.
Following a rousing “We Are Rockets” school song and performances by Wilshire Park’s award-winning hip-hop and drill teams, Franco was given accolade after accolade in a tremendous ceremony on campus on June 2nd.
Always the inspiring leader, in his own remarks, Franco advised the children “Principals come and go, your teachers change every year, but this school will always be yours.” He attributes his interest in education to his own 6th grade teacher who made learning fun and exciting.
Students especially enjoyed having Mr. Franco’s dog “Dino” in attendance. Franco explained that the beautiful big white dog seated on a VIP chair in the front row, had even helped check the premises for belongings the children had forgotten in the halls, when the dog came in over the weekend with Enrique. “Sad . . .,” “bad . . . “ is how the early level students described their feelings about Mr. Franco’s departure.
Letters, certificates and official proclamations of congratulations and appreciation flooded in from LAUSD, California Assemblyman John A. Perez, Governor Jerry Brown, and from Senator Dianne Feinstein which commented how one person can make a “profound difference in the lives of others” and how Franco’s “hard work has not gone unnoticed.” Sam Joo, Director of Family Services of the Korean Youth and Community Center praised Franco’s support of the larger community, beyond the Wilshire Park School. Franco was also presented with an outstanding administrator award by Willie Leach, President of the PTA’s Los Angeles Council, and was thanked by City Councilman Tom LaBonge and Carolyn Ramsay, Candidate for City Council District 4 office. Praise from the school’s own teacher and parent community was tearful and heartfelt.
A San Fernando Valley native, Franco attended Notre Dame High School, then USC and Pepperdine Universities, graduating with a BA and MA from Pepperdine. In 1981 he began his career as a classroom teacher at Magnolia Elementary School, before serving as a Coordinator opening Leo Politi Elementary School. From there he became the Match Coach Coordinator for Local District 4 and F, working with several schools and Match Coaches implementing math instructional change over a 5-6 year period. Franco started as the Principal of the brand new Wilshire Park School on Wilshire Blvd. at Norton Avenue in 2006.
Also lauded was Ms. Maria Quezada, Cafeteria Manager who is retiring after 24 years. Quezada was warmly praised for always creating a positive environment and greeting children with a smile while serving breakfast and lunch daily.