Thursday February 22, 2018
After five years serving in his role as assistant principal at Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School (FHTMS), Paul Suk-Hyun Yoon has recently accepted a position at the University of Vermont as senior advisor for strategic diversity research and assessment. Yoon will be working closely with Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, assisting her in stewarding the University’s “Inclusive Excellence Goals.” In addition, Yoon reports he will be working closely with individuals throughout the University “to help create a learning and work environment that is inclusive and affirming of all the University’s members.”
Yoon came to South Burlington after a thorough search for an assistant principal and rose to the top of a competitive pool of 78 applicants. His education includes a B.A. from Boston College, a M.Ed. in Curriculum Instruction Secondary Education History from Boston College, and a M.Ed. in Administration from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Yoon began his tenure at FHTMS in the 2013/14 school year.
He notes that FHTMS was his first time working in a middle school and remarks, “What I’ve learned over the past few years is that I love working with middle school students! I think this is a unique time in their lives, and the impact we, as educators, can have on these students, is simply profound.” Yoon shared that he used his recollection of the challenging times he faced as a middle schooler as a springboard for his work at FHTMS, realizing the great impact educators can have on students during this often daunting developmental stage. He says, “My personal story and my own challenging experience during middle school have really helped me empathize with what some of our students are going through.”
The Pursuit of a Vocation
Some people spend a good portion of their lives trying to determine their purpose, Yoon is fortunate to have found his early on and his various professional posts have served to affirm that he is on the right path. He says, “I believe my purpose in life is to passionately pursue justice to make the world a more equitable place,” Yoon noted in his letter to FHTMS parents, which announced his departure, “I believe this opportunity is the opportunity of a lifetime to help the University, and by extension the State of Vermont, in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
“When I first made the decision to pursue a career in education, I felt I was doing the right thing and that I felt I was following what I believed to be my vocation in life. As I leave Tuttle, I now know that I was right to follow my gut. Being an educator is my vocation in life. To me, this is now much more than just a feeling,” Yoon said.
Accomplishments: More than the Tangible
When The Other Paper talked to Yoon after his first year as assistant principal, he noted several highlights including facilitating the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee and participating in the “We All Belong” program, which is hosted by Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office. He also worked to improve school culture by focusing on six important areas: student behavior, the school’s physical environment, the teacher advisory structure, family and community partnerships, staff morale, and developing a greater whole-school identity.
“I have said this time and time again across the state. I believe FHTMS has all the ingredients to be a world-class school. The faculty and staff is excellent. The students, their parents and guardians are invested in education, and South Burlington, as a community, believes in a strong, sustainable publicly funded school system,” said Yoon. Reflecting upon his departure, he adds, “My hope is for FHTMS, especially as it gears up to celebrate its 50th anniversary this upcoming school year, to soar and shine a light for other schools in our state, and in the world, on what is possible when we all work together to inspire all of our community’s learners to make a positive difference in the world.”
A Thankful Farewell
While the impact of Yoon’s tenure at FHTMS will likely be felt for years to come, for Yoon, it is the school community that has made the largest difference in his life. “My proudest accomplishment at FHTMS is the depth and quality of the relationships I have formed with many of our community’s students, parents, guardians, and faculty and staff members, and it is these relationships that I will miss most about FHTMS.”
Yoon leaves FHTMS filled with gratitude for the experience, and for everyone with whom he has had the opportunity to work. In particular, he said, “I’d like to thank David [Young], our superintendent, for his steady leadership, Karsten [Schlenter], Tuttle’s principal, for his colleagueship, Adele [Strashnick], our school’s guidance administrative assistant for her unconditional support, and, most importantly, all of the students I’ve had the privilege of working for over the past five years.”
According to Yoon, a transition plan has been developed in collaboration with Superintendent Young and Principal Schlenter. Additional details will be shared in the coming weeks.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent