One of the newest assistant principals in the Sunnyside School District, Charlie Diaz, is a native of the Lower Valley. The other new member of the administrative team, Doug Kaplicky, already knows just about everyone here.
Diaz, 42, is the new assistant principal at Sunnyside High School. He is a native of Grandview, having graduated from high school there in 1981. He attended Yakima Valley Community College before transferring to Central Washington University. Diaz graduated from Central in 1986 with a Bachelor's degree in education with a kindergarten through 12th grade certification.
His first teaching job was in the Pasco School District, where he worked for two years.
"I really enjoyed it," said Diaz of Pasco. "It was really diverse."
Diaz ended up finding a teaching job in Grandview because he wanted to be closer to home and his family. Diaz worked at Smith Elementary School in Grandview for 11 years, teaching third and fifth grades.
For the past five years, Diaz has been teaching at Compass High School, which is an alternative school in Grandview.
"I really enjoyed the experience with the older youth," said Diaz.
In between all of that, Diaz found time to coach high school tennis for eight years. Diaz gained a love for tennis while playing for Grandview when he was in high school.
Diaz said it was through coaching that he gained a desire to move up to teach at the secondary level.
In 2002, Diaz earned his Master's degree in education administration with a pre-school through 12th grade endorsement from Heritage College.
While doing his administrative internship, Diaz was presented with an opportunity that many don't get. He was able to do internships at all of the different schools and grade levels in Grandview.
Diaz said two of the most influential administrators he interned under were both at Compass. Diaz said that both Pat Birr and Mike Closner, both past principals at Compass, were key in teaching him the ins and outs of administration.
"She really pushed me," said Diaz of Birr. "His (Closner) mentorship really meant a lot to me last year."
Diaz said he feels ready to jump into the leadership role that administration brings.
"I have always wanted to go in that direction," said Diaz.
Diaz said the assistant principal job at Sunnyside seemed like the right move for him to make. He said that he is familiar with Sunnyside schools and is looking forward to the opportunity to work here.
"I just want to continue promoting the positive things going on," said Diaz.
Some of Diaz's duties at the high school will include dealing with safety, discipline and attendance issues.
Diaz and his wife, Tammy, have four sons, Steve, Marco, Joseph and Thomas, ranging in ages from 20 to 6.
Kaplicky, 33, will serve as the new assistant principal at Harrison Middle School. Kaplicky will be sharing duties with current Harrison Assistant Principal Doug Rogers for the first year while Sierra Vista Middle School is being built. Rogers will then take over as principal of Sierra Vista.
Kaplicky is looking forward to coming to Sunnyside. He will be moving with his wife, Julie, who serves as the public relations coordinator for the Sunnyside School District, from Yakima later on this year. The couple has a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son.
Kaplicky is a native of the Yakima Valley, having graduated from Eisenhower High School in 1990. Kaplicky then attended Columbia Basin Community College, where he played baseball. Kaplicky joked how his baseball career could have gone further had he just been able to hit a ball.
Kaplicky graduated from Washington State University in 1995 with a Bachelor's degree in sports management and physical education.
Kaplicky went to work in the private sector, which included a stint with the Yakima Bears, serving in sort of a public relations and sales role for the minor league affiliate.
Then in 1997, Kaplicky decided to change directions with his career and attended Heritage College, earning a teaching certificate. Kaplicky said he decided to pursue a career in education in part because he enjoys being around children.
"I couldn't be happier," said Kaplicky.
Kaplicky recently earned his administrative credentials from Heritage College.
Kaplicky comes to Sunnyside from the Highland School District, where he taught health education/physical education.
Last school year, Kaplicky sort of got thrown into the administrative mix. Kaplicky had a chance to work as an assistant administrator in Highland last year, where he learning some of the ropes that go along with the job.
Highland, though, only offered Kaplicky a half-time administrative job and he was looking to put his talents to use on a full-time basis. The assistant principal position opened in Sunnyside and he decided to pursue it.
Kaplicky also has experience teaching at North Central High School in Spokane.
Coaching is also nothing new to Kaplicky. He served as the Toppenish baseball skipper and was the head coach in Highland last year.
One of the things that attracted Kaplicky to Sunnyside is the strong leadership throughout the school district.
Kaplicky said he would really like to focus some of his efforts on curriculum development.
Kaplicky said he is looking forward to moving his family to Sunnyside.
"I am really looking forward to being part of the community," said Kaplicky.