Tahoe Truckee School News: It takes a village
February 22, 2010
The path to adulthood can be circuitous at best, but fortunately for North Tahoe High School graduate Cindy Chaney Wahtola there were caring guides posted at many crucial junctures.
and#8220;I am the epitome of and#8216;it takes a village,’and#8221; says Wahtola, a 1987 graduate who grew up in Squaw Valley with a single mother, North Tahoe physical education teacher Alice (Chaney) Arthur, and two siblings. and#8220;These teachers were really my extended family.and#8221;
Wahtola takes on an almost reverent tone when she recites her academic and#8216;family’ tree and the personal traits she gleaned from each teacher.
She lauds English teacher Linda Kott for her dynamic teaching style that translated into lifelong leadership skills. Fellow English teacher Barbara Koenig taught her how to write.
History teacher Dewey Paul helped her understand the world outside the small Sierra community, while science teacher Dick Lingle brought adventure and exploration into the classroom.
As her first ski coach, Bill Ulicki showed Wahtola and#8220;what it meant to go beyond the job descriptionand#8221; as did physical education teacher Dave Brolliar. And finally, Wahtola’s lifelong addiction to running was nurtured by NTHS track coach Warren Mills, who recently retired.
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and#8220;Madman Mills was incredibly inspirational,and#8221; Wahtola recalls. and#8220;He could get anyone to run, even people who didn’t want to run!and#8221;
Now 40, Wahtola was active in both cross-country skiing and running during her high school years. One of the first female biathlon athletes in the region, Wahtola raced throughout the United States and Canada. She attended the College of Idaho on a ski scholarship where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Later Wahtola returned to her hometown turf and earned a master’s degree in counseling and educational psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. She subsequently earned a second master’s in educational administration from Concordia University, Chicago.
After a lifetime spent in the idyllic North Lake Tahoe region, Wahtola sought out an urban environment to pursue her counseling profession. She landed in Chicago where she first worked as a substance abuse therapist on the city’s tony North Shore.
Later she worked with Chicago’s most troubled inner city teens. This was a groundbreaking last chance independent living program that rendered both positive and heartbreakingly negative (death or incarceration) results.
and#8220;After two years I decided to take an emotional vacation,and#8221; Wahtola, explains. and#8220;I took a job as an high level assistant with Bank of America Securities. It was perfect for a year, but then I realized my soul was shriveling and I needed to get back to more meaningful work.and#8221;
Her soul was renewed when she accepted a job as a counselor at the city’s largest inner city high school, where she spent seven years. and#8220;It was a fantastic experience,and#8221; Wahtola says.
A Windy City convert, Cindy is married to Cully Wahtola, whom she says is a and#8220;fabulous husband.and#8221; She is now pursuing yet another career change as a stay-at-home mom to 1-year-old Hunter.
and#8220;I left Tahoe in my mid 20s and I feel like I didn’t have the chance to give back to this school community that helped to raise me,and#8221; she comments. and#8220;I really want to reflect my gratitude for my good fortune and#8212; I’m so grateful to these people.and#8221;
and#8212; Provided by Switchback PR + Marketing on behalf of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District
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