PEACHTREE CITY, GA — April 30, 2009 — Dr. Elaine Beraza, Director, Department of Defense (DoD) Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) and Department of Defense Dependents Schools, Cuba, (DoDDS-Cuba) announced that she has accepted the Superintendent of Schools position in Yakima, Washington. The Yakima School District serves a diverse population of nearly 15,000 students; Yakima is the 18th largest district in Washington, the second largest in Eastern Washington, and the largest Latino-majority district in the state. She also recently announced her plans to retire from Federal Service, effective July 1, 2009.
Beraza began her career as an educator in Charleston, S.C., where she taught grades two through seven and served as assistant principal before going to work for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) in 1978 at Incirlik, Turkey and later at Ramstein, Germany.
From Germany, she went to Puerto Rico, then a Section 6 School District, to teach high school students at the military installations there. She also served as a guidance counselor and assistant principal at the Roosevelt Road Naval Station's school. She later became principal of Ramey School (K-12). While at Ramey School, she worked with teachers in a peer-coaching model to provide continual job-embedded staff development. Beraza remembers working closely with the Ramey staff in a participatory educational leadership team model to improve achievement for all students.
In 1994, Beraza was selected as superintendent of the West Point Dependent Schools. Beraza recalled, "Being at West Point was a living military history lesson, as I developed a deep appreciation of the United States Army's mission, values, and leadership." In 1996, she became superintendent of the Camp Lejeune schools. While at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, Beraza implemented a universal pre-kindergarten program and was instrumental in obtaining support for new school construction. "At Lejeune," Beraza said, "we began to examine disaggregated student achievement data and look for research based strategies to provide interventions and support to improve student achievement."
On October 21, 2001, Beraza was selected as director for DDESS/DoDDS-Cuba. In December 2001, DDESS personnel pulled up stakes in Arlington and moved to Peachtree City to establish an Area Service Center geared toward delivering "heroic customer service" to the field. "I'm especially proud of the DDESS staffs' unparalleled support for our students, staff, and families heavily impacted by global deployment," she said. "One of my biggest challenges as director was consolidating the 11 DDESS districts into five districts with common accreditation, curriculum, certification, staffing and budget structure."
Throughout her career, Beraza has been a forceful advocate for equitable educational opportunities for all learners. She has distinguished herself as a powerful instructional leader who has had notable success in establishing collaborative leadership teams and creating a climate of open communication among all stakeholder groups. She is an advocate for 21st Century Teaching and Learning and high levels of student engagement. "I have to credit my success in DDESS to all of the amazing employees who really care about what they are doing and take genuine pride in students' accomplishments and success."
Her contributions will be missed by DoDEA. "Dr. Beraza has served military students, their families and DoDEA around the world in many capacities," said DoDEA Director Dr. Shirley Miles. "Although the places and jobs have changed over her years with DoDEA, what hasn't changed is her motivation for serving for three decades. "Her dedication and commitment to military families, particularly in difficult times, will long be remembered," said Miles.