Program director's last day is March 16
Charlene Komosinski, director of after-school programs and child care services, will retire on March 16 after 21 years with the Del Mar Union School District.
When asked why she has chosen to retire, Komosinski simply said: "It's time."
"Charlene's vision and commitment to DMUSD students will be missed as she begins her well-deserved retirement," wrote former Superintendent Tom Bishop on the district's Web site.
Komosinski came to her post from a business background. She worked for several years in the restaurant industry where she helped open national franchises. She was managing a restaurant in Poway when started volunteering in her daughter Julie's kindergarten class at Del Mar Hills and Del Mar Heights.
"I love kids," Komosinski said. "When I used to volunteer at Del Mar Hills, I would walk into the school and just think 'I love it here.' I love the smell of school, the smell of the library. I felt at peace and at one with the kids. If I could do it again I might have become a teacher."
For 10 years, from 1989 on, she filled various classified positions before she was offered the job of director of after-school programs and child-care services.
Komosinski said she will never forget the day Bishop offered her the job. Students were celebrating Halloween and she accepted her new position while wearing nylons dotted with orange pumpkins.
The after-school office started out in a construction trailer in the Carmel Del Mar parking lot. Now the office is next to the blacktop at Ashley Falls. Komosinski said she loved being on campus and being close to the children.
Just a few doors down, children play on the computer and watch a movie in a darkened room, closing out their day. Komosinski said children usually just want to go home at the end of the day, so childcare needs to be a place where they feel comfortable and happy.
"Childcare kids really need to be in a defined space," Komosinski said. "My passion has been to make sure children have there own space, that they're not warehoused in just any available room."
In 2000, when she accepted the post, the only district schools were Del Mar Hills, Del Mar Heights, Carmel Del Mar and Ashley Falls.
Then the district took off, and a new school was opening every two years.
Now the only school currently without a child care center is Ocean Air.
"The last goal I was trying to accomplish was building at Ocean Air," Komosinski said. Currently, children at Ocean Air attend after-school care in the multiuse room.
In addition to overseeing child care, after-school services and the district preschool at the Shores property, Komosinski also ran camps and after-school enrichment programs.
In 2004, she took over the popular summer camp Children's Creative Workshop after founder Madilyn Kowasaki died. It now welcomes more than 500 children each summer in addition to the some 350 students who attend district summer camp that Komosinski developed.
To celebrate retirement, Komosinski and her daughter are going to Disneyland.
After that, she is looking forward to "not doing anything."
"I want to be peaceful, to walk on the beach, read books and be happy and free," Komosinski said. "I'm so excited to be retired. Making the decision was hard, but since making it I feel giddy. I've not had second thoughts. I feel this weight has been lifted off me. It just feels great."