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Local School Postpones Opening Due To Teacher Shortage

YOSEMITE — When schools around the area open their doors this week, one local favorite will not be among them.

Set in Yosemite National Park, Yosemite-Wawona Elementary Charter School offers a multi-age classroom for transitional kindergarten through eighth grade students, with project-based curriculum designed to foster curiosity and life-long learning. The public charter school is tuition-free.

Yosemite-Wawona students receive a unique education, including weekly field trips, thanks in large part to the park’s natural and human resources. While fostering a deep sense of environmental stewardship, the school serves families from all nearby counties.

Recently the community celebrated key accomplishments of the most recent academic year, and there were many.

In Smarter Balanced computer-based assessments, students at the Charter scored significantly higher than local, county and state schools. From a partnership with NatureBridge, to being named an Honor Roll school, the Charter was recognized for demonstrating high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement over time, and reduction in achievement gaps.

But now, Yosemite-Wawona has postponed its opening day indefinitely for the 2018-19 school year.

“Due to a couple of very late resignations by two certificated personnel, the Wawona School is in need of a credentialed teacher,” explains Glenn Reid, formerly the Superintent of Bass Lake Unified School District, now serving as an administrative consultant for Yosemite-Wawona.

“Without a teacher, the school cannot open its doors.”

Two teachers signed contracts in June and then quit in August, according to Reid. While the reasons behind personnel matters are not always public, they were each said to be seeking opportunities elsewhere.

The school’s longtime director resigned last spring in order to spend time with her family, Reid adds.

“As the director there, she was never home. One of the teachers who left had finished her credential in the spring, so she was going to fill that spot.”

The “Wawona School District” was first established in the mid-1890s, according to the school’s website, prior to Wawona becoming part of Yosemite National Park. The one-room school’s rich history has spanned more than 120 years.

Despite the setback, the Board of Trustees remains committed to quality education even as they look for suitable replacements. The plan is to wait for the educators who best fill the positions.

“The teacher shortage across the nation is making our search a difficult one.” Reid says. “This is not just a Wawona problem. There just aren’t enough qualified teachers to fill the need.”

Enrollment for the new semester had been set at about 35 registered students. That’s fallen in the wake of the news that the school is regrouping.

“We remain hopeful that we will find the right person. In the meantime, we understand that some of our Wawona families will be looking for educational opportunities elsewhere.

“Once our doors are open — and we are confident that they will be again — we are hopeful that they will return to the unique educational opportunity that is Wawona School.”

Yosemite-Wawona Charter School

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