Oroville School District has three new teachers

New Oroville teachers (L-R) Dan Vassar, Larry Gibson and Carol Cooke

New Oroville teachers (L-R) Dan Vassar, Larry Gibson and Carol Cooke

OROVILLE – Three new teacher joined the staff of Oroville School District with the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year last month.

Daniel Vasser is a third grade teacher at Oroville Elementary and comes to Oroville by way of Tonasket where he did his “practice teaching” in a fifth grade classroom.

He says the switch to third grade is a bit of a change, but a very enjoyable one.

“The kids are great,” he said.

Vassar said he left a great job in 2004 for one that would allow him to make a continual difference. He moved to Pullman for a couple of years to finish his education at Washington State University.

“My goal this year is to learn from my colleagues and my students. As a first year teacher, I have wonderful ideas,” he said. “I just need to learn how to present those to my students in the most meaningful way possible. Oroville has a great, great staff of teachers and support staff.”

He says his success this year will be because the staff cares about him and about one another’s success every day.

“I have a beautiful wife, Stephanie, and three sons, Boyd, 11; Quincy, eight and Reese, five. Thank you for welcoming my family to your community,” he said.

Carol Cooke, the district’s new music teacher, is from Ellensburg, Wash. and taught in the Ellensburg School District’s music department for five years. She was also an adjunct professor at Central Washington University and had a private music studio for five years.

Cooke is a graduate of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio where she got a B.M. She was then granted an assistantship to Emporia State University in Kansas to achieve her Master’s Degree in Music.

“I recently was given a grant to return to school to become a Washington State certified teacher and finished the teaching program in the spring of 2009,” said Cooke, who grew up near Youngstown, Ohio.

She says she is excited to be in Oroville and that everyone has been very welcoming and supportive of the school’s music program.

“I’m delighted that I have this opportunity to teach music and influence students lives through music. I’m looking forward to upcoming community events and encourage any musicians in the community to join us when we perform,” she said.

Cooke adds that any used musical instruments in good working condition are always welcome for the music program.

“I have two beautiful daughters. My hobbies are horseback riding, water sports, skiing and hiking. I also love to volunteer,” said Cooke.

Larry Gibson is the new Special Education teacher at the elementary school and has led quite and interesting life. Gibson, who lives in Omak, is also an accomplished wrestling coach of 48 years and currently coaches a free-style group for kids living in the county. He has taught all over the state, but moved to Omak to be closer to his mother, who recently broke her hip, he said.

He grew up in Portland, Oregon and lost his leg when he was hit by a drunk driver when he was 11-years-old, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing athletics while he was in school.

“I have an artificial leg and I would use it when playing football, when I wrestled I’d just wrestle without it,” he said.

After graduating from George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon he took a job working for the state Department of Health and Social Services where he acted as a troubleshooter with responsibilities in nine and a half counties. While working for the state he also began volunteering as a wrestling coach and found he liked doing that and working with the kids.

That and a tragedy involving an airplane crash made up his mind that he wanted to become a teacher.

“I was on an airplane that crashed into the highest mountain in the state, Copper Mountain near Sherman Pass,” said Gibson. “I broke my leg and my back and all the other people on the four-seater Cessna 182 were injured. I was up to my waste in the snow.”

The group walked for two days, but it was “keep going or die,” according to Gibson.

“We walked down a mountain, then up a mountain and then down again until we got to Republic. When I got out I was thinking what I wanted to do with my life and life’s too short and I’ve been teaching and coaching ever since,” he said.

Gibson said he’s been teaching about 30 years and coaching for 48 years. For coaching wrestling he was made a member of the State Coaches Hall of Fame and he is a former recipient of the State Coach of the Year Award for Washington. This past summer he was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma.