Tuolumne County District One Supervisor Liz Bass shared her thoughts and memories of longtime educator Dario Cassina, who passed away last week at his residence at the age of 90.
Bass was Thursday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Week”.
“When I first got to know Dario Cassina, I was a new teacher at Sonora High’s Continuation program, which was called “Opportunity School”, said Bass. “The year was 1972.”
Cassina started teaching at Sonora Elementary School in the 1940’s, and was later elected Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools. He was asked to help create the county’s first continuation high school in the 1960’s.
Bass reflected, “I noticed immediately how well he worked with the students, many of whom were troubled. He was able to cope with whatever they said or did with equanimity. Instead of rising to their bait, he tried to get the best out of them by teaching better ways to communicate. He was not a punisher. He smiled and laughed a lot, and mostly had a good time. Many of the students had never met anyone like him. What an inspiration he was!”
“He insisted that there was no secret to his success. He talked to the students about the routines of their daily lives. His conversations with them were friendly and he paid strict and respectful attention to what they had to say. He made his classroom into a bright light in their lives.”
When asked if the world needs more men like Mr. Cassina, Bass replied and blogged, “Oh yes! In fact, when people talk about what is needed in Tuolumne County, they often say things like “better jobs,” “better housing,” or even “a Trader Joe’s.”
“I would like to add to that list. I say we need more teachers like Dario Cassina whose influence on community life is immeasurable. We need more people we can look up to. We need people who can do what Dario did at Opportunity School, which is to work effectively with young people who feel that life is hopeless. He talked to those young people in the same way he talked with anyone else, and they, in turn, came to experience themselves as valuable in his eyes. That feeling changed them, and those changes had a ripple effect in the wider community. Over the years, we all benefitted. Dario Cassina was one of a kind, and we owe him a great deal. His passing reminds me of how much more work there is to do in strengthening our community.”
The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard each weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.