By SCOTT PESZNECKER
When seeking a grand marshal for Sunday's Murphys Homecoming Parade, organizers made an educated pick Michael Chimente.
They chose the Angels Camp man for his work since 1997 as superintendent of the Vallecito Union School District, and for the impact he has had on children in both Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.
To be an educator here was a goal Chimente set years ago, and he made good on it.
"I made a promise to my wife that my family would come first, not my job," Chimente said, describing his intentions to stay a foothills resident. "I'm not going to climb the ladder at the expense of my family."
Chimente was midway through high school in San Lorenzo when he realized he was meant to be an educator.
The idea grew on him as he and classmates traveled to nearby elementary schools to tutor young students.
"The fact that you could make a difference, and you could see the sparkle in their eyes when they grasped a new concept," Chimente said.
"Once I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I decided I wanted to teach in Tuolumne County."
'Blessed' to be here
Like many others who live in the area, Chimente grew up hiking and camping in the foothills. In 1957, his parents built a cabin in Cedar Ridge, so Tuolumne County was already a second home for him, with both friends and favorite places.
Although he would not meet his wife, Maria, for several years, he saw the foothills as a good area to raise a family.
"I'm blessed to be in an area that still values traditional values, and to be close to my parents," Chimente said.
Chimente attended St. Mary's College, which had a small campus and fewer students in class than the national average. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1975 and his teaching credential the next year.