John Oakley, a local educator who began teaching in the Spokane Public Schools in 1980, recently passed away. At his funeral, I learned from John’s son, Adam, that most of the Oakley family now works with Spokane Public Schools.
Oakley was my coach and sixth-grade teacher at Roosevelt in 1992. He also coached and taught my two brothers, several of my friends and my neighbor. Oakley taught me about sportsmanship after seeing me showboat at a YMCA football game. He contributed to a fun atmosphere at Roosevelt by doing things like the running man dance at an assembly and creating Oakley Middle School to prep for the upcoming transition to Sacajawea.
The best thing Oakley did for me is when he called my folks one evening when I misbehaved too much at school, acting out of character. To realize when your students are acting out of character, a teacher has to know the students beyond a superficial level. To call home after hours, the teacher has to care.
Teachers like John Oakley make Spokane Public Schools special. I’m glad to know that there are still Oakleys teaching in Spokane and caring about students.