NORTH BEND — After almost seven years as superintendent for the North Bend School District, Bill Yester is saying goodbye.
“I came into this job saying I love this district, and now I’m leaving it saying the same thing,” he told The World while sitting in his office surrounded by bulldog statues and art, the district’s mascot.
Yester has been preparing for retirement since last year. Now at 66 years old, he feels enough has been done to make the change.
“I wanted to make sure to fix some things here, see a lot of things done and that we’re moving forward,” he said. “Most of that is getting accomplished, so I’m happy about that.”
Of course, his road into education didn’t start in 2013 when he stepped into the office of superintendent. Back when he was growing up, he had two interests. The first was in veterinary work, while the other was in teaching biology and coaching.
It wasn’t until he saw how much schoolwork was required to become a veterinarian that he found himself pursuing a teaching career instead.
“But teaching and coaching was my niche,” he said. “I took the right path for me and never regretted going that way.”
Though he admitted that sometimes when he walks by the biology room, he thinks to himself, “I wouldn’t mind doing that still.”
His journey into education took off with his first job in South Dakota coaching football, basketball and track. From there he went on to teach at Oklahoma with a graduate assistantship with cerebral palsy kids and physical education.
Then he found himself in Colorado teaching science and coaching football, junior high basketball and track.
“After you do something for a long time, you can’t always stay caught up with the kids and are a little slower with them than you used to be,” Yester said.
Because of that, he moved into the administration side of education, starting as the athletic director at the Myrtle Point School District. Then in 2005, a spot for assistant principal opened up in the North Bend School District and he said it was “time to move on.”
“That opportunity came open and I knew North Bend was a great district,” he said. “I wanted to be part of it.”
Finally, in 2013 he became superintendent, replacing the former who stepped down because of medical issues.
“I started as interim and kept the job,” he remembered. “When I started, my goals were to keep our students up-to-date with what is going on in the world.”
That included keeping students familiar with ever-changing technology and well-educated in the common core through good instruction.
“We had instructional priorities and we get better every year with it,” he said.
But as he looked back at his initial goals, he approved of the work the district accomplished.
“There’s always more you can do,” he said, “but I think we’ve done quite a bit. We made a strategic plan and that’s a living document, so we update it as things change, especially in technology. We keep up on it so when kids leave for college or the military or on to a career, they are ready. We strive for that here.”
While he worked as superintendent, one big focus was to improve the district's buildings.
“I won’t take the credit for it because it took a lot of people to get that done, but at Hillcrest we put in the covered playground, in North Bay we put in a whole playground, we put in a whole softball field, have the seismic grant shoring up the high school gym, and also the North Bend Trade Center,” Yester summed up. “I’m proud of that, not just for myself but North Bend period. It shows we care about our kids and what they need to be successful.”
His last day on the job is June 30. His plan after that, he says, is to sleep in.
“I hope that our district personnel feel that I worked hard for them,” he said. “I feel I have. When you talk about a district and how well it’s doing, it’s the people here and how hard they work for the students that made it happen. I hope I always promoted that. It’s why we’re here. Students are number one and we have done everything we can do help them.”
Yester is being replaced by incoming Superintendent Kevin Bogatin.