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Top teacher called ‘gold mine of counsel’

Tom James, a counselor for Klahowya Secondary School has been named CK Teacher of the Year by the Silverdale Rotary Club. The map of the world behind James is apropos because the adventurous James once built his own boat which he sailed from Japan to Neah Bay in the early 1980s.  - Photo by Tracey Cooper
Tom James, a counselor for Klahowya Secondary School has been named CK Teacher of the Year by the Silverdale Rotary Club. The map of the world behind James is apropos because the adventurous James once built his own boat which he sailed from Japan to Neah Bay in the early 1980s.
— image credit: Photo by Tracey Cooper

Tom James, counselor for Klahowya Secondary School has traveled the seas and calmed emotional storms. On Sept. 11, for his efforts he was named Teacher of the Year 2003 by the Silverdale Rotary Club.

James, 53, is known for his dedication to students, teachers, and support staff.

He began his Central Kitsap career as a language arts teacher at Fairview Junior High in fall 1986. James became a school counselor when he transferred to Ridgetop Junior High in fall 1993 and then moved on to become a counselor at Klahowya Secondary School in late 1997.

Over the years, he has been involved with a number of student activities including the Fairview student newspaper, training students as Natural Helpers, and supporting skateboard clubs and track teams.

“Tom James is a gold mine of counsel, kindness, and wisdom. He relates to students in a most sincere, caring, and positive manner,” one parent said.

Another parent noted in a letter to the superintendent, that from the day that James met her family, “he has been enduringly patient, kind, friendly, and encouraging to both myself and my children.”

James received a $100 award from the Rotary.

“There are plenty of other people out there that deserve this,” he said Tuesday.

He said he wanted to be an English teacher since high school. After graduation he earned a degree from the University of Oregon and a master’s from City University. Despite holding a teaching credential, James said teaching jobs were scarce.

Instead he became an ironworker and later built his own sailboat. The adventurous James sailed from Japan to Neah Bay in the early 1980s.

Now he calms what can at times be emotional, turbulent waters for students, teachers, parents and staff. James said his job is never boring.

“I try to remain calm. I can’t help people if I’m not calm,” he said. Originally from Portland, Ore., James now lives in Poulsbo with his wife, who is also a counselor for the CK school district. They have two daughters.

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