By Phyl Newbeck, Contributor
If you’re visiting Town Hall these days you’re likely to see a new face smiling at you. Sayuri Koerner was recently hired as assistant town clerk. “I was looking to do something different,” Koerner said of the job, which is unlike any she has previously held.
Koerner taught yoga and worked at her family’s restaurant, Folino’s Wood Fired Pizza, but when the pandemic hit, she began to give her restaurant duties to others so she could stay home with her daughters. Even before COVID-19, Koerner had thought about finding another job.
“Restaurant hours aren’t always the best when you have little kids,” she said. “I loved working with my family and building the restaurant, but I was always on the lookout for something on my own that I could do during the school day.” When she saw the Assistant Town Clerk job opening posted on Front Porch Forum, Koerner decided it would be perfect for her. “I live five minutes down the road and like and respect Mary [Mead],” she said.
Koerner lived in Japan until she was seven but spent most of her childhood in the Phoenix area. She played on the women’s basketball team at the University of Vermont, and after college she briefly stayed in the area with an AmeriCorps position, maintaining trails for the Fletcher summer camp used by the DREAM program for children from low-income families. She returned to her mother’s house in Arizona, but her then-boyfriend, now husband, Buddy, enticed her to return to Vermont when he talked about the restaurant he was going to start with his father. “I decided to go cross country and join in on the fun,” she said.
Koerner arrived in Vermont in 2011 and was there when Folino’s opened in March of 2012. She said the family knows they can call on her if they ever need additional help. “I definitely miss it,” she said. “Especially this time of year because it’s busy and fast paced.”
Upon her return to Vermont, Koerner took up yoga. “I was dealing with all sorts of injuries,” she said, “and trying to figure out what I could do to keep my head and body sane.” Classes at Yoga Vermont with Kathy McNames seemed to help, and soon Koerner was visiting the studio four or five times a week. “I started cleaning the bathroom in exchange for classes,” she said “but eventually I completed the teacher training program and now I’m a certified instructor.” Koerner’s friendship with McNames had additional benefits when McNames officiated Koerner’s wedding.
Although she hasn’t been Assistant Town Clerk for long, Koerner is enjoying the work. “I love the typewriter,” she said. “I’m doing a lot of recording of mortgages and other documents and a lot of that happens on the typewriter.” Koerner enjoys the fact that each day at Town Hall is different. “I’m learning something new every day,” she said. “It’s entertaining and it keeps my attention.”
One downside to the new job is Koerner doesn’t have as much time for yoga. “I’ve been trying to get up earlier to get my practice in,” she said. Koerner substitute taught a Zoom yoga class and found it challenging but hopes that she can get back in the studio when the pandemic is over. Working at Town Hall gives Koerner some sense of normalcy thanks to the human interaction. “We’re wearing masks,” she said “but it seems close to normal.”
For two years, Koerner served as the assistant coach for the Champlain Valley Union girls’ varsity basketball team, but she fears Covid-19 will keep the team from playing this year. Likewise, she expects the women’s basketball league that played at the Miller Center last year to be taking a hiatus. Last year, she played on a team sponsored by Folino’s.
Koerner admits there are things she misses about Arizona. “I miss the desert a lot,” she said. “I don’t miss the summers but I do miss the dryness and the spring.” Nevertheless, she enjoys outdoor activities in Vermont and has found a degree of community that she says she never found in Phoenix.
Koerner and Buddy have a three-year-old daughter named Virginia and a five-year-old daughter named Sumiko. “We love living in Charlotte,” she said, noting that her mother recently relocated from Phoenix. “I’m so happy to work in the town where I live,” she said. “I feel like I’m finally giving back in a way and the people have been really great so far.”