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Ken Yonkee

Ken Yonkee

Ken graduated from Beaver Falls High School in 1949 where he earned letters in varsity baseball under the tutelage of 2014 Circle of Achievement inductee Bill Ross. After graduation from Beaver Falls High School, he attended Geneva College where he majored in education and played 2 years of baseball.

His college education was interrupted during the Korean War when he served in a Military Police Unit with the U. S. Fourth Army from 1953-1955. He played baseball at Camp Leroy Johnson before returning to Geneva College where he graduated in 1956 with a B. S. in Education. After graduating from Geneva, he joined the faculty at Highland Junior High School and taught General Science. Ken then enrolled in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh earning his Master’s Degree in Education plus certification in Guidance and a Secondary Principalship. This was followed by Advanced Studies at Pitt that resulted in the acquisition of a State Commission to serve as Superintendent of Schools.

From 1968-1981 Ken was the Superintendent at the Riverside School District. He started the varsity football program, completed construction of a football stadium, renovated the Industrial Arts facility and built the 5th- 8th grade Middle School to house 750 students. As Superintendent, he was responsible for hiring the following personnel: Football – Karl Florie, Ron Sciarro, Alan Guandolo, Frank Henn and Bill Suit; Basketball – John Miller, Joe Fisher and Bob Rak; Baseball – Dan Oliastro and John Marnicio.

From 1981-1986 he was the Superintendent of Schools at Blackhawk where he hired Jack Fullen as Athletic Director and Bob Amalia as Baseball Coach. He added Latin to the Foreign Language Department and with the assistance of Board Member Don Inman, coupled with a team of outstanding teachers, installed Computer Science Labs at Blackhawk High School and Highland Junior High School.

From 1987-1997 Ken was Superintendent of Schools in Yellow Springs, Ohio. While there, he restarted varsity football and brought Larry Bruno and his wife to Yellow Springs for a week to mentor young coaches. He also developed a comprehensive interdisciplinary studies program at the district’s newly constructed Intermediate School. With a substantial grant from IBM, Yellow Springs was able to install Technology Labs in Grades 6 through 12. A state authorized open enrollment concept brought students in from the surrounding areas which bolstered the district’s budget significantly.

Ken was named Ohio Administrator of the Year in 1995 by the State-wide School Orchestra Association. He also taught 4 years as an adjunct instructor for prospective teachers at Antioch University.

Upon retirement from the Yellow Springs Exempted Village School District, Ken and his wife returned to Pennsylvania where he was appointed to the Blackhawk Foundation Board of Directors in which he co-chaired Classroom Enrichment Mini- Grants.

His long-time friend and mentor, Dr. Charles D. Groff, willed Ken to oversee a Scholarship Fund for Blackhawk seniors who were interested in pursuing a degree in education. To date, this six member board has awarded such grants to 13 high school graduates.

Following Ken’s distinguished career as an educator, he was recruited by the Northeastern Ohio Learning Associates (NEOLA), a firm that is contracted to provide consultation for school districts needing assistance with written policies and administrative guidelines. Ken performed this service until his recent retirement in 2018.

When questioned as to what his most memorable achievement was during his long career, Ken did not hesitate to cite the creation of the Highland Baseball Association which included youngsters from Knothole, Little League, Pony, Colts and American Legion. To accommodate the number of teams and schedules, six baseball fields were created via donations from sponsors. In all there were 26 uniformed teams including more than 250 players.

He and his wife, with the assistance of a number of dedicated volunteers, raised private funding to build a public swimming pool adjacent to Park Field in Chippewa which became the summer gathering place for families.

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