Best of the Northwest in Education
Two alumni from Lewis & Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling received top honors from their home states in 2007 for their outstanding work in the field of education.
Kathleen Larson B.A. '92, M.Ed. '00
Washington's 2007 Teacher of the Year
Last fall, Kathleen Larson, a teacher of deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Evergreen High School in Vancouver, headed to what she thought was a homecoming rally, unaware that the assembly was actually in her honor. A bouquet of gold roses, gift card, golden apple trophy, and proclamation from Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard declaring the day in her honor clarified the situation: She was the new Wal-Mart and Sam's Club Washington Teacher of the Year.
"I was floored. I had totally put it out of my mind," says Larson. She had filled out an application for the state award after winning the local Wal-Mart and Sam's Club prize, which was based on nominations by parents and former students.
The award included a check for $10,000 to benefit Evergreen High School. With her principal's blessing, Larson plans to use the cash as seed money to wire her school for video, voice, and data transmission lines and to purchase video phones for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. With these upgrades, students will be able to conduct interviews with potential employers and colleges, connect with deaf alumni of the school, and communicate with deaf parents and others in the American Sign Language community. In addition, all students will be able to take advantage of electronically hosted guest speakers and seminars.
"I'm fully committed to the idea of total communication," says Larson, "and with this infrastructure in place, our students will benefit from many new 'wired' opportunities."
Sara Johnson, Administrator Licensure '98 (Basic), '01 (Continuing)
Oregon's 2007 National Distinguished Principal
"It's the highlight of a life, the highlight of a career," says Sara Johnson of being named Oregon's 2007 National Distinguished Principal. Johnson, principal of Grandhaven Elementary School in McMinnville, was selected for the award by the Oregon Association of Elementary School Principals. The award is sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and in corporate partnership with AIG Retirement.
A former college waitress and owner of a dry-cleaning and custom sewing business, Johnson is blessed with a capable, take-charge sensibility. Under her leadership, Grandhaven--where one-third of the students speak Spanish and 60 percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged--has earned three consecutive "exceptional" ratings on the Oregon Report Card.
Johnson teams with teachers, staff, parents, and community members to pay close attention to individual students, ensuring they get whatever they need to succeed.
"One student might need clothes or food, another enriched learning opportunities," says Johnson. "Parents need to understand how they can help their children. Community members need to know how to foster success, whether it's fund-raising or appointing special advocates for families in the courts."
Johnson is humbled by the recognition and quick to praise the team of people who support and assist her. "It's a basic human need to be acknowledged," says Johnson. "People are willing to do amazing things when someone takes the time to notice."
--by Pattie Pace
Back to Spring 2008 Chronicle