Last year, when autumn rolled around and the new school year started, Vernonia High School students had a lot to look forward to with the opening of the new school campus. There was a lot of excitement as a new era dawned on the community. It was a big change for students, teachers, and families.
This year, when the school year starts again in September, there will be some different changes for the students at Vernonia High School. And I would venture to guess that the students won’t be quite as excited this coming school year.
At the June 13, 2013 Vernonia School Board Meeting, Superintendent Dr. Ken Cox announced, and the School Board accepted, the resignations of three staff members: band instructor Rob Izzett, social sciences teacher Brad Baker, and administrator James Brookins.
All three of these men have been popular among students, have had an impact not just in the classroom, but also outside it, and each of them will be missed by the students, the staff and the community.
Rob Izzett came to the Vernonia School District seven years ago and took a struggling music program and completely turned it around, qualifying his high school band for the State Competition the past three years and even winning the State Championship in 2012. He is a consummate professional, an outstanding instructor, and a student favorite. He has taught our students and our community that hard work and perseverance pay off and showed our students that they can compete with the best programs in the state. He is leaving Vernonia to tackle a new challenge, rebuilding a program in Klamath Falls.
James Brookins is leaving Vernonia after twenty years to become the Superintendent/Principal for the Blachy School District. Brookins taught math and science before recently moving into administration. He is an educator that always expected high results and pushed his students to excel. He worked to provide a well-rounded education for students and led many extracurricular activities, including Leadership, National Honor Society and the recently successful Robotics team. He coached many student athletes over the years in Cross Country, Wrestling, and Golf. Recently he has been studying to obtain his Doctorate and has been mentioned on the short list as a possible Superintendent candidate in Vernonia in the future. He was a teacher because he loved to teach, he worked with students because he loved to help young people reach their goals, and he was a member of our community because he loved Vernonia. We could not have asked for anything more in a faculty member and he will leave a huge hole in the staff at our school.
Brad Baker was a student favorite who almost always would get a mention during graduation speeches by students when they would recount their favorite memories of their school years in Vernonia, usually for his jokes and sense of humor. He was chosen as the Guest Speaker for the graduation ceremony by the Class of 2010. He was a young teacher who related well to his students both in and out of the classroom. He was the head football coach for several years, but his real love is baseball; he is leaving Vernonia to take a position as the head baseball coach at Blue Mountain Community College where he played some collegiate ball. “This is an exciting opportunity and a dream come true for me,” says Baker. “ I will miss Vernonia very much. I enjoyed the staff and I will miss the students a great deal.” Baker is currently in Alaska, working a the pitching coach for the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska Baseball League.
Each one of these educators was special and shared their own unique talents with their students and with the rest of the community. They will be missed, they will not be easy to replace, and they will certainly not be forgotten. We wish all three of them good luck.