Fresh staff and fresh visions in Yosemite Unified

Rachel Huggins
Rachel Huggins

When classes start Thursday within Yosemite Unified School District, a host of fresh faces will be greeting them at campuses and in the district office.

With new Superintendent Cecelia Greenberg at the helm, six new teachers in YUSD, as well as new directors of special education and support services, are ready to bring high quality education to around 1,700 students.

Yosemite High School

At Yosemite High, more than 700 students will be greeted by five new teachers in a variety of subjects and programs.

Terry Baker will instruct the school’s award-winning Cadet Corps, Andrew Curtin will teach in social studies, Ian Conrad-Mitchell will teach English, Andy Medley, a transfer from YUSD’s Rivergold Elementary School, will teach special education, and Joline Martinez will become one of the school’s new math teachers.

Martinez, who grew up in Oakhurst and graduated from Ahwahnee High School, said she was proud to become part of the Badger team.

“I want to thank the Badger team for adding me to their clan,” said Martinez, who graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and taught eighth grade at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Madera. “I’m curious and excited to continue my journey as an educator at YHS.”

Baker, a chiropractor in Oakhurst since 1985 who recently retired, said he was looking forward to helping instruct new corps members.

“I have been active in the Yosemite High School Cadet Corps since 2006 to present,” Baker said, noting his rank as captain. “I am excited to help kids excel in leadership so they can be confident in whichever field they endeavor to go into when they graduate.”

Though the search is still underway for a new principal after Randy Seals took over as superintendent of Bass Lake Joint Union School District, campus officials said students should expect the same Badger spirit that has always existed at YHS, with a focus on top-notch educational and athletic programs, as well as vocational classes such as metal shop and woodworking.

Rivergold Elementary School

At Rivergold Elementary, Rachel Huggins will replace Medley as resource specialty program teacher for 4th-8th grade.

Raised in the countryside of Kerman before moving near Hensley Lake as a sophomore in high school, Huggins said the foothills have always felt like her home.

“I live on a ‘mini ranch’ as I like to call it,” Huggins said. “I have two dogs, four cats, four chickens, and a horse named Skipper. I grew up riding horses and knew I wanted to pursue that passion again. Living in the foothills of Coarsegold has given me that opportunity.”

Huggins graduated from Fresno Pacific University, with degrees in contemporary Christian ministry and fine arts, and from Fresno State with a master’s degree in special education. She said after some prayer and soul searching, and working as creative arts coordinator and case manager for the Tower Arts Center in Fresno, she fell in love with the idea of working with students who have special needs.

“It took me three years of working in these two fields to finally realize I wanted to become a special education teacher,” Huggins said. “It took time for the plan to unravel, but once it did it was obvious this was my calling.”

Huggins resides in Yosemite Lakes Park.

Coarsegold Elementary School

At Coarsegold Elementary, new principal Judy Horn will take over for Jared Pierce.

Pierce accepted a principal position at Chawanakee Unified School District’s Hillside Elementary School, under construction near Highway 41 and Avenue 12.

New district staff

At the district level, Marcia Miller will take over as the new Director of Special Education and Student Services, while Kevin Edwards becomes the new Executive Director of Special Projects.

Miller, who served as Director of Special Education for Mariposa County Unified School District the last four years, joins YUSD with eight years experience as a school psychologist in Madera Unified School District, and 10 years as an adjunct instructor at National University in psychology and counseling.

Miller grew up in Santa Cruz, but moved to Fresno to attend Fresno State where she graduated with a master’s degree in school psychology in June of 2004. She moved to Coarsegold around three years ago, and said she is looking forward to serving students in the community.

Edwards, a native of Selma, previously served as Director of Support Services for Sanger Unified School District. He said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve in YUSD and have his family - with wife Hollie and three children - become part of the Mountain Area community.

“My goal will be to continue to find collaborative ways for the district to become more efficient, allowing us to continue to fully fund district initiatives which create more engaging and flexible learning opportunities for students,” Edwards said.

Edwards graduated from Fresno Pacific University with a bachelor’s degree in social science, and from Fresno State with a master’s degree in public administration. He also graduated in the Chief Business Official mentor program, a one-year program designed to produce qualified CBOs.

Yosemite Unified School District’s school board is comprised of Christine Wilder, president, Tammy Loveland, clerk, and John Reynolds, Joe Smith, and Monika Moulin, trustees.

The district’s campuses include: Coarsegold Elementary School, Rivergold Elementary School, Yosemite Unified Alternative and Adult Education programs, and Yosemite High School.