Classroom comeback Randy Yoshimura is grateful to be one of nine teachers who will get their jobs back

By KIRBY NEUMANN-REA

News staff writer

April 30

Music and physical education makes a comeback in Hood River County School District this fall.

“I’m looking forward to getting my letter,” teacher Randy Yoshimura said Thursday, referring to the letter of recall he will receive, along with eight other teachers who had their jobs eliminated, or were transferred, a year ago.

Yoshimura, an 18-year teacher with the district, experienced an unusual odyssey this year. He spent 2005-06 in three different teaching capacities at six different schools. Budget cutbacks one year ago forced the elimination of 12 teaching jobs in the district, including all elementary physical education and music positions, Yoshimura’s among them.

Those positions have been restored for the 2005-06 school year. Assistant Superintendent Connie Kennedy told School Board Wednesday that the letters of recall would go out this week.

This year Yoshimura served as instructional assistant at Westside and as adaptive PE teacher at three elementary schools, Wy’east Middle School and Hood River Valley High School, helping students with special needs. He has also been working toward his classroom endorsement, to give him more options as an educator.

“I feel grateful,” said Yoshimura of his job renewal. “It’s something I never thought would happen.”

Yoshimura said his year of transition has taught him valuable things about the district, and about himself.

Being an instructional assistant was “an eyeopener,” Yoshimura said. “I had no idea how hard they work, and they see all kinds of kids.

“It’s been interesting to have spent time at different schools and see how each has its own characteristics,” he said. “They’re all great schools — just different in their own ways.”

Yoshimura is one of three local teachers working toward their classroom endorsement. That put him in the third grade class of Nancy Radley’s for the past month. Radley and other teachers helped Yoshimura gain needed classroom experience toward his endorsement, which he will complete in August 2005.

“So if this ever happens again I can go into a classroom,” he said of cutbacks in specialist jobs. “It’s something I have just in case.” But while he has enjoyed his classroom experience, he is glad of the chance to return to his beloved Westside PE job. (Fellow PE teacher Stephanie Perkins, whose position was also eliminated a year ago, is also in the Portland State University program, along with Shelley Curtis, who works in special education at Parkdale Elementary.)

“I’m glad I stuck with it. We love Hood River,” said Yoshimura. He and his wife, Cindy, have a daughter, Kenzie.

Along with approving the letters of recall, the School Board declared April 22-28 Teacher Appreciation, recognizing “the many extra things teachers do,” in times of cutbacks and extra duties, announced Board Member Jan Veldhuisen Virk at Wednesday’s School Board meeting in Odell.

Also receiving letters of recall are:

* Music teacher Sydney Stevens-Litt, May Street;

* Music teacher Kathy Hannen-Smith, Parkdale and Pine Grove;

* Music teacher Alan Taylor, reassigned full time to Hood River Middle School;

* Music teacher Dennis Hillen, restored to full time at Wy’east Middle School;

* PE teacher Stephanie Perkins, May Street;

* Ed Goin, PE, Cascade Locks;

* Robert Johnson, PE, Mid Valley;

* Technology teacher Tim Pruitt, returning to Wy’east following leave of absence.

“Randy’s been super to have in the classroom,” Radley said. “He has great rapport with the students. He created a positive, calm, atmosphere with the kids and was well prepared to teach math or any other assignment put before him. Our class is going to miss him.”

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