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New faces in local schools

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Five new teachers were introduced to the school board and community at last week’s regular meeting of the Yellow Springs Board of Education. The board approved one-year contracts for the teachers for the upcoming school year.

“As administrators, hiring great teachers and support staff members is the most important and impactful work we do,” Superintendent Mario Basora stated in his report to the board.

Jennifer Clark, who was the longterm substitute for former fourth-grade teacher Ben Trumbull last year and is a district parent, was hired as a special education teacher for Mills Lawn.

As a long-term substitute, Clark “exceeded our expectations. She had an immediately positive impact on our parents and students,” Basora wrote in his report. Clark was hired at Level I, Step 4, at $41,730 a year.

Hired to replace Trumbull in fourth grade was Brian Knostman, who brings to the job 10 years experience in a Dayton-area charter school and a strong interest in project-based learning, according to Basora. In Basora’s report, he said former colleagues described Knostman as a “leader who was the steady rock in an otherwise tumultuous environment with lots of changes constantly happening around him.” Knostman was hired at Level III, Step 10, at $60,099 a year.

Kate Lohmeyer, most recently from Huber Heights schools, was hired to be the health and physical education teacher at McKinney Middle School and Yellow Springs High School. She brings to the job 12 years experience as a teacher and coach, during which she has increased the number of female athletes in Huber Heights, according to Basora. She was hired at Level III, Step 10, at $60,099 a year.
“What you’re doing here is exciting. I feel fortunate to be here,” Lohmeyer told the board.

Chastity Miller, who worked in the district last year as an aide and did her student teaching in Yellow Springs, was hired as a teacher for special needs students at Mills Lawn, a new teaching position created to meet increased special education services at Mills Lawn, according to Basora. Miller was hired at Level I, Step 1, at $28,488 a year.

Rebecca Eastman was hired as the science teacher for seventh and eighth graders at McKinney Middle School, taking the position of Jack Hatert, who is this year returning to the position of assistant to the principal at McKinney and the high school, and will also take the newly created position as PBL Foundation teacher. According to Basora, Eastman has served in several longterm substitute teaching jobs at Mills Lawn and the high school and “she was highly successful in these roles.” Eastman was hired at Level III, Step 2, at $43,246 a year.

Ettamarie Valdez, a YSHS graduate and the parent of a student, was hired as the study hall aide at the McKinney Middle School. Valdez “rose to the top of a strong pool of candidates for the position,” Basora wrote in his report. She was hired at 6.5 hours a day at Classification III, Step 1, at $16,426.

In other personnel changes, Demetria Wall, currently a half-time aide, will become a full-time aide for special needs students, taking Miller’s former position in the high school. She was hired at Level I, Step 1, at $17,690, at seven hours a day.

The board also approved one-year parttime contracts for Nan Meekin and John Gudgel as Mills Lawn tutors. Substitute teachers hired, at $80 per day, were John Arment, Terry Graham, Sheila Kruse, Katy Laurens, Joyce Spencer, Marcia Sutherland, Tricia Tallman and Gary Wilkinson. Substitute bus drivers Susan Butler and Craig Carter were approved, as were substitute aides Sharon Laws, Kelli Lewis, Jennifer Lyman, Christy Nielsen, Susan Snow and Tina Wingate, all at $10 per hour.

In other school board business:
• District librarian Eli Hurwitz presented for the board’s approval a grant application for a Maker Space at Yellow Springs High School/McKinney School. The grant requests $49,251 from the Yellow Springs Endowment for Education.

The grant would fund a variety of tools and equipment needed for the district’s PBL curriculum, including audio and video equipment and woodworking tools. Until now, district teachers have largely provided their own tools, according to board members, who agreed that the materials are needed.

Board members suggested several small changes or additions to the grant in order to strengthen its presentation. Consequently, they did not vote on the grant application this month, and will do so in August.

• The board approved first readings of policies for graduation requirements and non-immigrant and foreign exchange students, the second reading of the policy for open enrollment, the Mills Lawn student handbook and the district’s new emergency management plan. By law the district is not permitted to reveal details of the emergency plan, according to Basora.

• Basora presented the district’s second-semester report on bullying incidents in the schools. There were three incidents of harassment/bullying and intimidation reported at the high school, two incidents of harassment at McKinney Middle School and one incident of harassment reported in the sixth grade at Mills Lawn, according to the report. The report is somewhat unusual in that it includes several incidents from the high school, where bullying incidents usually do not take place, Basora said.

The number of incidents is consistent with previous years, he said, although, “we don’t want any bullying in the schools.”


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