Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Caroline (Chin) Yee ’62
Caroline (Chin) Yee began and ended her journey in the Oakland public schools at Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland’s Chinatown. Growing up in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood, Caroline attended Lincoln as a child and many decades later, after a long and rewarding career both as a teacher and as a school principal, she served as its principal. She attended Westlake and Oakland Tech, graduating in 1962.
At the University of California, Berkeley, she met Gary Yee, her future husband and a future superintendent of OUSD. After graduation, Caroline began her 40-year career in education at a school on the island of Guam where her husband was stationed in the US Air Force. From 1971 on, Ms. Yee served in the Oakland public schools, initially as a teacher at Martin Luther King Jr., Washington, and Sequoia elementary schools. On a Fulbright Exchange program in Scotland, Ms. Yee developed her expertise in hands-on science and arts education and in 1992 taught science in LITES at Mills College, a professional development program for Oakland teachers.
Caroline then served as principal of Hillcrest and Emerson Elementary Schools and in 2004, completed a full circle by becoming the principal of her very first school, Lincoln School. She received many prestigious awards for her contributions to public education and retired in 2008. According to her obituary, “Her message was always the same: ‘Have fun! Learn a lot!’ Throughout her career, Caroline believed in engaging students, and she delighted when students could see things from different perspectives, and share their learning with others. She sponsored science camps, science fairs, art fairs, music in the schools and beamed when students proudly shared their work with parents and others. As a principal, she strived to bring out the best in every adult who worked with children.” Caroline Yee died in Oakland on February 21, 2013. Later that year, an Educational Annex at Lincoln Elementary School, a building Ms. Yee helped to create to replace the school’s outdated portable classrooms, was named in her honor.