As school returns for fall 2021 at Portola Junior/Senior High School (PJSHS) the school welcomes six new staff members. There have also been a few changes that have taken place this year, adding additional support for PJSHS students.
Ms. Lori Marquette has moved to her counseling office full time, and Mr. Brian Sheridan has moved to his Vice Principal/Athletic Director office full time too. “We’re looking forward to a year full of new opportunities and plenty of activities!” said staff.
As a graduate from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, Seth Gordon was able to develop his love for sports and physical activity into his passion for educating young people of the lifetime benefit physical fitness and activity has on every dimension of health. “My joy for teaching has brought me all the way here, along with my wife and two young daughters,” Gordon said. “In my free time, I love watching movies, binging shows, eating great food, and playing sports and games. I am extremely excited to meet each student, make new memories, and dive into this beautiful community of Portola. Go Tigers!”
Tim Brubaker grew up in Portola and is a graduate of Portola High School. He married his wife Rachael, who is also a Portola High School graduate. Their two sons Matthew and Spencer also graduated from PHS as did their daughter-in-laws Katlin and Amy. They have 3 grandchildren, and Brubaker loves to hunt, fish, coach, spend time in the outdoors and with his family. Mr. Brubaker will be teaching Construction/Digital Academy and Woodshop classes. Wearing his other hat, Tim becomes Coach Brubaker continuing to coach PJSHS Varsity Boys Basketball team and the Varsity Baseball team.
Jamar Tate was born and raised in Portola. His father, Willie Tate, was a teacher and coach at PJSHS for over 20 years coaching Football, Wrestling Softball, and Baseball. “I graduated from PHS in 2000, and I currently coach Little League Softball,” Tate said. This will be his first year as a teacher and he will be instructing 8th-grade science, geography, Fire Science, and Weightlifting. Tate’s wife, Nurse Christina, works at PJSHS and C Roy Carmichael Elementary School.
Ben Steele is the new Business and Finance teacher at PJSHS. Steele grew up in the Chicago suburbs before moving to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend college. From there, he began my journey in California, where he has lived in five places over the last eight years. “I finally settled on Portola in 2017, where I have been managing staff at the local summer camp and the dog rescue,” Steele said. In his free time, he coaches both Varsity Volleyball and a Little League team. “I have two dogs, Meeko and Maddie, who are often with me when I am not at school, and I spend a majority of my time right now renovating my camper van so I can continue to explore the west coast.” Steele looks forward to working with the students at PJSHS and continuing to have an impact on the children in this community.
John Burnes teaches seventh and eighth grade history at Portola Jr./Sr. High School. He comes from Merced County, the great Gateway to Yosemite National Park. “For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with the past,” Burnes said. “I believe that the past is what shapes the future and our own individual lives.” Burnes is also a big fan of reading fictional history and watching movies, you guessed it, based on historical accuracy. When he’s not teaching or studying history, you’ll likely find him riding his bike or watching his niece play basketball.
Jade Pratt transferred to PHS from CRC where she worked as a paraeducator for two and a half years. Pratt is currently working to obtain her BA in English, having already earned her AA in Teachers Education. Pratt and her husband have two daughters attending CRC, and sits on several boards such as FRLL, AYSO & PTA. Pratt has coached Minor Girls Softball and co-coached a AAA team. “I love playing softball myself and going hiking with my family,” Pratt said. “This school year I will be again be working as a paraeducator and anticipate a year full of new beginnings. I am excited for it to start and am looking forward to meeting and working with the students.”
Sherry Goodale, also known as ‘Nana Mom,’ is moving into a full-time position in the SPED department after working as a Paraeducator substitute at CRC and PJSHS. “My husband and I are raising our 16 and 11-year-old grandsons. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 53 years and we have three grown children and seven grands,” Goodale said. Goodale has been in the Administrative and Education field for about 47 years. “Everyone here is awesome, and I love my job!” Goodale added.