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Yosemite Adult School – Changing Lives One Student at a Time

OAKHURST—When you walk into the building that serves as headquarters for Yosemite Adult School (YAS), you first feel a sort of organized chaos, immediately followed by a blast of enthusiasm that can bowl you over. You just know that the educators here are on a mission. 

What Is Yosemite Adult School?  

Yosemite Adult School, located in Oakhurst and Coarsegold, helps students 18 years and older to finish their High School Diploma, English as a Second Language, Family for Student Success. That’s what their Facebook description says, but that doesn’t begin to delve into who they are. 

Dedicated Instructors

There is no doubt that the 2.3 instructors who staff YAS love what they do and who they do it for. How do they get 2.3? Tony Misner and Kathy Kabbani are the two. Tony oversees and teaches the Career Technical and Forestry and Wildland Fire classes. Kathy oversees and teaches High School Diploma and ESL/Citizenship tracks. Comprising the .3, Danielle Simms heads the the Culinary, Hospitality, and Tourism Classes. Danielle actually belongs to Yosemite High School and is shared with the adult school.

Among the three of them, they change lives, and they are passionate about it.

It’s Never Too Late

If life got in the way and you couldn’t complete your high school diploma, Yosemite Adult School can help. 

When I arrived, Tony couldn’t wait to tell me about the student he had on campus that morning. She’s a single mom with two kids, 46 years old with a cosmetology license—but no high school diploma. She decided she didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of her children any more, so she enrolled in YAS. She’s determined to finish, and Tony expects her to graduate this year. 

Instructor Kathy Kabbani is just as determined to help her. Because adult school students often have work schedules that prevent them from attending class on a regular basis, Kathy goes out of her way to make sure they get the support they need. She’s been known to meet a student in the parking lot of the Chukchansi gas station to exchange homework assignments. She teaches classes throughout the summer, so her students don’t lose traction or motivation. 

You’re Never Too Old

Tony says their oldest graduate, back in 2002, was 87 years old. Students in their 50’s and 60’s are not unusual. If you’ve got the will, Kathy, Tony and Danielle have the way.

What Population Does Adult Education Serve?

Components of the adult education system may include adult immigrants, homeless and disadvantaged and incarcerated adults, those with disabilities as well as single parents and displaced homemakers. If you want to learn, there’s a place for you. If you want to improve reading and math skills, adult education can assist. Tony, Kathy and Danielle will help you make it happen. 

An Alternative Pathway

“An alternative pathway to the conveyor belt,” is what Tony calls the Yosemite Adult School education system. While the standard high school diploma requires 260 credits for seven periods a day over a span of four years, YAS fast-tracks that. Through YAS a student can graduate with 160 credits at a pace they determine for themselves.

Misner comes by his passion for adult education naturally, because of an experience he had during his own senior year. He wanted to take an EMT course (a junior-college level class) and had to ask permission of his high school principal to do so. The principal refused, and that was it for Tony. He decided to buck the system because the system didn’t suit his needs. He figured there had to be an alternative for students who just didn’t fit “the norm,” and he decided to make that his own career choice. In fact, it became not a choice but a mission.

Not everyone needs, wants or fits into the standard high-school curriculum, and YAS provides that path for them in an individually-nurturing environment.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Map shows home locations of enrolled ESL students

Besides the high school diploma track, Kathy Kabbani teaches English as a Second Language. So you think there wouldn’t be much call for that in the Eastern Madera County area? Think again. A map in Kathy’s classroom marks where her students come from, and the range is broad. She teaches three ESL classes a week, plus individual study as necessary. 

Rosa, a former student, says,

“In Mexico I studied to be a teacher, and I spent some time doing early childhood education there. But here, I couldn’t do anything until I improved my English. I got my high school diploma, finished my required units at college. I thought it would be too difficult and gave up a few times, but my teacher encouraged me. She believed in me and I began to believe in me too. Now I am a teacher with Head Start. I couldn’t have done this without Yosemite Adult School.”

Fast Track to a Career

If what you or a loved one seek is a career path—or a job change—YAS has several directions to take you. 

Culinary Program

Danielle Simms teaches an Introduction to Culinary Arts course on Mondays and Wednesdays beginning March 18 through May 1, 2024, from 6 pm to 8 pm. This course is a great introduction to the Culinary, Hospitality, and Tourism (CHaT) career pathway. This coursework can also prepare you to enter the Madera Community College program. It can also lead to a ServSafe Management Certification. For more information, contact Danielle Simms at (559) 683-8801 ext. 1340 or adultschool@yosemiteusd.org.

Wildland Firefighter Program

Yosemite Adult School, in cooperation with the National Park Service and the U. S. Forest Service offer National Wildfire Coordinating Group courses at no cost to students. These courses offer the opportunity to embark on a career, “not just a job.” In a matter of weeks, it’s possible to gain various National Wildland Fire Coordinating Group certifications which meet basic wildland firefighter training standards for all federal wildland fire agencies. YAS offers courses throughout the year.

No-Cost Education

Except for the culinary program, the cost for YAS classes is $0.00. Zilch. Nada. If you’ve got the drive, you can change career directions in a matter of weeks at no cost to you except for your time and effort. 

Next Step Faire

To further a partnership between the business community, government agencies and career seekers, Yosemite Adult School offers the Next Step Faire, coming up on May 15, 2024, from 3 pm to 6 pm, at the Yosemite High School Athletic Fields. Over 30 exhibitors including the National Park Service and U S Forest Service talk to prospective employees about opportunities available within their organizations. 

Community Partners

Yosemite Adult School partners with others in the community to offer additional educational experiences. Recently Westside Family Preservation Services used the adult school classroom to conduct a Narcan training. Participants learned how to administer Narcan for opioid overdose and went home with doses to administer. According to Sarah Roemer of EMRAP Cares and Soup 4 Friends, Narcan use has already saved 16 lives in our community that she’s aware of.

Contact Information

Yosemite Adult School is part of the Yosemite Unified School District, headed by principal Stephanie Osowski. For more information about classes or enrollment in YAS, contact Tony Misner at 559-683-8801, ext. 1300, or email him at tmisner@yosemiteusd.org. Kathy Kabbani can be reached at kkabbani@yosemiteusd.org, call 559-683-8801, ext. 1340

Something new is always happening at YAS. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos Courtesy of Yosemite Adult School


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