Brooke Teacher of the Year known for patience, caring
Toni Shute, Brooke County superintendent of schools, said, “When we hired Kurt Yano, we got a bonus because with him came an automatic relationship with the students of Brooke HIgh School.”
Shute said Yano, in his 11th year as computer repair instructor at the school, has been an excellent role model in school and the community by cheerfully giving of his time, from volunteering at the community dinners held there on Martin Luther King Day or tutoring a struggling student after school.
Yano also is the leader of the Wellsburg Masonic Lodge, president of the Ohio Valley Mopar Club, which holds car shows to benefit local charities; and a member of the Osiris Shrine of Wheeling.
“We got a bonus when we hired Kurt because with him came an automatic relationship with the students at Brooke High School,” she said.
Shute said it was no surprise Yano’s nomination for teacher of the year originated from the school’s special education department because he’s known for taking students there into his classes.
Yano said teachers shouldn’t judge a special education student only on his or her individual education program, a list of educational goals set by the youth, teachers and parents.
“You have to meet the people,” he said, adding, “A lot of talented people just happen to be in special education.”
A graduate of West Liberty University and Drexel University in Philadelphia, Yano said he’s been happy to teach at his alma mater and to fill the position held by the late John Fluharty, who had sparked his own interest in computer repair.
“When he retired, I took over his job, so it kind of came full circle,” he said.
Shute said the modest educator was surprised to hear he was selected for the honor from nominees submitted by each of the 10 schools operating in the county last year.
Yano will be among county teachers of the year from throughout the state recognized at a dinner this week in Charleston.
The board also recognized Charles McCoy, a science teacher at the high school, for securing a $4,997 grant from Chevron and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for the school’s forensic science and engineering course.
In its first year, the course is aimed at students interested in pursuing careers in the forensic science field, including the analysis of evidence collected from crime scenes.
In its first year, the course has attracted more than 100 students, McCoy said.
He said in addition to additional training for him, the grant will be used to purchase various lab materials, including sample x-rays and toxicology, fingerprint and blood stain analysis kits, often using simulations of real specimens.
McCoy said he plans to engage his students in an investigation of the cause of the mock car accident to be staged by the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter in the spring.
Debra Rockey, chairman of the school’s science department, said McCoy has been invaluable to the school and has applied his knowledge of technology in various ways, including creating a computer database for the department’s chemical inventory.
In other business, the board:
• Observed a moment of silence for Jim Butterworth, a special education teacher at the high school who died on Sept. 2.
Shute noted Butterworth, an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq, also taught students who had been expelled in the night program at the Alternative Learning Center.
“He always had that soft spot for the underdog and through his manner, could say to that student who had been expelled, we’re not going to throw you out with the bathwater,” she said.
• Approved the purchase of a walk-in freezer for $20,516 from Carney & Sloan at the request of Nancy Karavalos, the school district’s nutrition coordinator.
• Heard from Kenny Orovic, a parent who suggested it broadcast its meetings live through the Internet for residents who aren’t able to attend them.
Ted Pauls, the board’s president, said that will be looked into.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)