Bass Lake Joint Union School District 2015 retirees

Seven employees representing 151 years of service are retiring this year from the Bass Lake Joint Union School District (BLJUSD). Retirees were asked duties, challenges, accomplishments, memorable incidents, and what they will miss most.

Jim Barnett

* 33 years: in 1988, a State Certified School Bus Instructor, and in 2008, appointed to oversee Maintenance, Operations and Transportation (MOT) for the entire district.

“As MOT director, I was an integral part of the district’s modernization and building program that was supported by the Measure R Bond passage.” Barnett assisted in the planning and execution of projects made possible by that bond.

* Factoid: Barnett attended and graduated from Wasuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee, one of the kindergarten - eighth schools in the district. Later, as an employee, he became site manager at Wasuma.

* * Job challenge: the economic crash in 2008. “It takes money to run a school and money was so tight and yet the facilities were needy. Just trying to make ends meet, have enough staff and resources to continue on ... keep bus runs going and facilities maintained.”

* Accomplishments: “The district’s transportation fleet has been greatly improved ... I was able to procure several new buses through state bus grants and, this last year, the district was able to procure a bus with a wheelchair lift. I was also able to take advantage of grant opportunities to purchase clean air quality golf carts for each of the sites in the district, thus increasing our staff’s ability to meet student and staff needs.”

* Miss the most: “I enjoyed seeing kids and kids (of those kids) that I had been driving. I’ve seen second and third generations.”

* Family: married for 33 years to Bridget, also an employee of the district; five children; three grandchildren.

* Plans: Spend more time with family, friends, on hobbies and “do more fishing.”

Linda Ackerman

* 28 years: instructional aide for seventh/eighth grade math teacher at Oak Creek Intermediate (OCI), computer technician, and library/media center coordinator.

* Will miss the most: “I have always loved working with children, both middle school and elementary school ages. I know people always say that but it’s true. There is never a dull day with kids.”

* Memorable incident: “This wasn’t exactly funny at the time, but it is to me now. I was teaching typing at OCI as an elective class. I remember one boy who just didn’t want to learn to use the home row keys and I kept getting after him about it. He walked out of class and sat outside crying. This was a big kid who ended up playing football in high school and I made him cry over the home row. I’ll never forget it. Hopefully he forgave me.”

* Family: Sol, husband of 47 years, two children who graduated from Yosemite High School - Bryan lives in Colorado Springs with wife Sarah and seven-year-old daughter Isabelle and Rachel who lives in Beaverton, Oregon with husband Kevin and their two daughters, Megan and Katelyn.

* Plans: “We plan on moving to Oregon in the near future so granddaughter spoiling is number one on my list. I look forward to long walks with my girls, watching them play soccer and dance, going to the library and Powell’s Bookstore in Portland. Having lots of time to read is going to be special. I will also have lots of extra time to spend in Colorado with my other girl who loves to play baseball and volleyball. I also look forward to do the gardening that I love, especially growing vegetables and berries. You can have beautiful gardens in Oregon.”

* Looking back: “My first position with the district was going to be temporary, for just one month, and here I am 28 years later. It has been so much fun and I am going to miss all my school friends very much.”

Kathy Davies

* 28 years: bus driver.

“I have had a bus driving certificate for 36 (years) ... and (I) have cleaned everything there is to clean. I now have some children of kids I took on the bus.”

* Advice: “I remember a lot of things I overheard kids tell each other. Parents, remember, you may not think they are listening but they are. And (they) don’t always get the facts straight. They can be so funny but frightening at the same time.”

* Changes seen: “The changes I have seen are mostly in children’s behavior. And not for the good. They seem to ignore what you said until you get angry or raise your voice. Then they might listen and do what you ask.”

* Entertaining incident: “One day I was driving my bus and a secretary from OCI called another bus to ask if the driver had found a ‘clarinet’ on his bus. The driver must of not heard it word for word because he answered ‘Claire Annette. Where does she get off?’ The reply was, ‘no a clarinet.’ He answered there is no ‘Claire Annette’ on my bus. The secretary tried one more time. ‘Clarinet.’ Then the transportation director told the driver, ‘you know, saxophone’s sister.’ I laughed so hard. It still cracks me up to think about it.”

* “I will not miss getting up at 3:30 a.m. to be at work at 5 a.m. Or being in a hot bus. Or cleaning bathrooms that have been facing the afternoon sun all day - hot and stinky. I will leave those things to the younger crowd. I will be relaxing at the lake.”

“Thank you to all the drivers who have let me off and on the road, stopped traffic so I could turn and hung back so I could turn that big bus around. And to those who have stopped at my red lights, a big thank you.”

* Plans: “I look forward to spending more time with our kids and five grandkids, relaxing, maybe some travel, and fixing up our house. We just moved in April.”

Jeannine Heitman

* 27 years: beginning in 1983, worked at OCI as an instructional aide in language arts for two and a half years before going back to school to complete credential program. When OCI had only one computer, put together a spelling practice program.

Other duties: home/independent study curriculum alignment/development, work with homeschooling families, site administrator at Charter School #63; taught third, fourth and fifth grade classes at Oakhurst Elementary School (OES) since 1998, directed 20-plus musical theater productions, with fellow teacher Karen McAleece initiated the use of the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, AR program manager 16 years, programmable light board operator, volunteer worker to reopen OES library, composed school song and cheer for OES.

* “In 1991, with three part time teachers, Mountain Home School became a necessary small school in (the) Bass Lake School District. With the addition of a curriculum library, traveling computers, special classes, Odyssey of the Mind, monthly newsletters and field trips, the school kept growing. On Sept. 9, 1994, Mountain Home School became Charter School #63. I think this was my most important accomplishment.”

* Humorous story: “In 1988, I was hired part-time by Bass Lake School District to do an independent study with students who had been suspended or expelled. One of my students, from another district, had been expelled for pantsing four students and a teacher on a playground. (Superintendent) Dr.Pizelo could tell that I wasn't very comfortable with that. He told me to always wear a belt on days when I visited that student. I was also homeschooling my daughter through a new home/independent study program run through Bass Lake Elementary at that time. I helped some of the other homeschoolers with curriculum ideas on a voluntary basis.”

* Plans: “I plan on spending a longer summer in northern, lower Michigan playing as much golf as I can stand, visiting my family and playing euchre every Tuesday night at the senior center. I’ll probably see if they need me at the library for the summer reading program, as I’ve been participating there for several years.”

Cliff Neufeld

* 18 years: janitorial, maintenance, and as bus driver.

“For one year, while assigned to “Wawona (Elementary School), I drove bus, did maintenance, janitorial (tasks) and lawn.” (He also performed some secretarial jobs and served lunches).

* Most fulfilling aspect of career: “Watching the kids grow up and meeting new people.”

* Memorable day: “This last year because it was a fire day. That was pretty weird.”

* Significant changes in district: Neufeld has seen shifted from several small schools such as Wawona with some 15 students to larger, unified school districts. “In little schools, you have time. In bigger schools (there is) no time. Just get them through. It’s a babysitting thing after awhile. Rules strangle a teacher from teaching.”

* Family: married to Kerry 38 years, three sons

* Plans: practicing piano, “honey do” cleanup around the house, get more involved in specialized meat things; has prepared BBQ for 150 people in the past, favorite BBQ meat is tri-tip.

* History: Neufeld’s family owned the Neufeld's Ahwahnee Store which closed in 1997.

* Plans: spend more time with family, church, community

Richard Ivey

* 9 years: special education teacher fifth through eighth grades, teacher liaison with the Parent-Teacher Council (5 years), worked with Christian youth clubs.

* Most fulfilling aspect of career: “Watching students grow and begin to make connections to life after their school careers.”

* Memorable incident: “Walking into my own classroom for the first time, realizing how long I had waited for that moment to come.”

* Significant changes in education: “Technological advances allow for students to be more resourceful and take more ownership for their education. It’s only going to improve and advance faster.”

* Plans: “Family time is my biggest priority. After completing 26 years in the U.S. Navy prior to this, I think my wife and I have earned a little time to enjoy each other.”

* Family: married 41 years to wife, Patricia, son David, son Derrick-“has already gone on to be with the Lord,” and four grandchildren.

* Memories: “Working for Bass Lake District at OCI has been my dream job. No one could find a better place to work or a better group of people to (work) with and for. The families have been very supportive and want to see children thrive.”

Sherrie Clark

* 8 years: fifth grade teacher at OES, Resource Specialist Program (RSP) teacher at OCI, field trip leader for fifth grade trip to Yosemite Pioneer Village and the Indian Camp at Camp Wawona

“Working with kids is a blessing. They teach me something new every single day. It keeps me a kid at heart. While working with special education students, it has been especially rewarding to see a child ’get’ a topic when they have convinced themselves that they can’t and never will. My job is to prove to them that they can do it.”

* Favorite memories: “My favorite times teaching were when I was in Yosemite with students. In such an awesome environment, kids feel as if anything is possible for them. It gives them a feeling of what history was like for the local Indians and pioneers settling our area. I have loved Yosemite for years; my husband and I were married there. Being able to teach in such an amazing environment has been the highlight of my career.”

* Changes in education: “The biggest change I have seen in this district is the change to technologically strong classrooms. Each classroom has a Chromebook for every child, an overhead projector and a document camera. We even have a full time technology coach and high speed Internet. Wow. When I first got here, there were only a few computers in each classroom and students had to sign up for a turn to use them.”

* Plans: “I'm looking forward to reading, spending time with family and getting more involved with my church. I will continue to work with children in some capacity as long as I am able.”