Remembering Stacie Younts

Students and teachers memorialize late faculty member on the anniversary of her passing


Rebekah Mann

Former students Kayleigh Klinksiek and Rebekah Mann placed flowers next to Stacie Younts’ bench in honor of their teacher’s death. The flower vases were made by Klinksiek’s dad.

By Rebekah Mann, Smithson Valley High School

The metal bench sits behind the flagpoles facing the school where social studies teacher Stacie Younts taught for 22 years.

An engravement on the bench reads “In memory of Stacie Younts.”

Younts died suddenly on Nov. 5, 2019, and a year later, her co-workers and students remember how she affected their lives.

“Mrs. Younts was truly a blessing to me in the mornings before school,” junior Rylie Blackmon said. “I would go to her class to hang before first period and chat with her and some other students. She would  always listen to me and my crazy friend problems and put forth effort to get to know her students.”

Younts taught AP Psychology, AP Human Geography, pre-AP Geography and Sociology and served as the social studies department head. Her laid-back demeanor helped make her class the highlight for some students’ days.

“I remember walking into her classroom and hearing her blasting ‘My Chemical Romance Radio’ on Pandora,” junior Sophia Henderson said.

However, Younts’ music taste also included more peaceful genres.

“Our favorite memories were when she would play Buddhist music as we entered the classroom, and it was so peaceful,” junior twins Abby and Ian Martin said. “We also liked when we had deep discussions about religion.”

Lessons in B209 were heavy in class conversations and never limited to a single topic.

“My favorite memory from Mrs. Younts’ class is when we would sit in a group and argue about life’s big questions, politics and Disney movies,” junior Kayleigh Klinksiek said. “She would just sit and laugh with us and make comments when she had an opinion. These were some of the best conversations I had at school.”

Her sudden passing shocked her students and those around her.

“The day before she died, I remember I took a quiz and there was a spot for extra credit,” Henderson said. “I didn’t know the answer, so I drew her a cute little dinosaur begging for extra credit to make her laugh. She never got to see it. It’s been a year, and that still makes me sob.”

Younts’ impact was not limited to her students. She changed the lives of many faculty members as well.

“She was active as a mentor to me my first year [teaching] and made me feel confident about what I was doing,” Geography and Debate teacher Jonathan Mckinley said. “She was the kind of person that was open-minded enough to give me confidence to ask ‘Well what do you want to do? How do you want to do that?’ and supported me my first year teaching, and that stuck with me for a very long time.”

Younts was always there to talk when her coworkers needed.

“Whenever I started [teaching at Smithson Valley], I started mid-year, so I took over someone who had left in the middle of the school year, and she helped me out a lot,” pre-AP Geography teacher Julian Johnson said. “Even though she wasn’t my designated mentor, I always knew that I could come to her to talk to her about stuff, not just about school, but we talked a lot about family – we talked a lot about life – we talked a lot about travel.”

Younts drove a bright red Jeep Wrangler with the license plate “XPLORIN” and a tire cover with the J.R.R. Tolkien quote “Not all who wander are lost.”

“Mrs. Younts was a dear friend of mine, and I always loved her zest for life,” social studies teacher Susan Guyer said. “She always wanted to seek out possibility and adventure. For example, my favorite quote of hers would be ‘go make some stories.’ That embodies right there that yearning to go and explore what life has to offer.”

Some current former students would begin their mornings at school in her classroom before the bell, catching up with their teacher.

“One of my most beloved memories of Mrs. Younts is waiting for her outside her classroom for tutoring,” junior Michelle Sandoval said. “Every morning I’d wait for her to get to school and would see her come up from the elevator rolling her black crate behind her, carrying her bags and papers as well. I knew it was her just by the sound of the crate rolling on the school hallway tiles. She worked hard. This is an image I always remember – what a devoted teacher she was.”

This story was originally published on Valley Ventana on November 5, 2020.