To the Editor:

It was the spring of 1997 in Wapato, and my husband, Randy, and I heard gunshots. As our hearts raced and we checked on our two young children, we were determined to move and settle in a community that was safe for our children. Neither of us wanted to leave our jobs in the lower valley; we loved our students and athletes. But we wanted our children to have the opportunity to be raised in a small town that was also safe.

That same spring, Randy was offered the head coaching job at Ellensburg, and a year later, I was offered a job as well. We never had plans to move from this beloved place. We loved the community, our jobs, our colleagues and all the experiences that went along with raising two boys in this town. It was here that Randy and I met our very closest friends, found "our store" (where everyone knew our name), and settled in to have the life we'd dreamed of.

But this past winter, Randy and I felt the churning of something within us ... the need for a new challenge. That, along with the fact that we were moving almost two hours closer to my family made us make the jump to Kennewick. But I would be remiss if I were not to mention the fact that we were both going to make a significant pay raise. We may well be in our last 10 years of teaching and are looking down the road to retirement. On our plan, the state looks at the highest five years of income to determine your pay out for retirement. For us, by relocating, we were going to increase our income (together) by about $22k. That was a deciding factor.

We will always consider Ellensburg a home, but we had to watch out for our future. As we watch our Ellensburg teachers come together and fight for a competitive wage, we could not be more proud! It takes a laser focus for over 200 people to come together for a common vision of recruiting and retaining top notch educators. These are the very same people that give of their time over and over again to ensure Ellensburg students have the most amazing experiences, both in and out of the classroom. Please support them in their endeavor!

Tara Affholter



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