Their efforts to shape our minds stay with us for decades. Along with a few of our closest friends and family and maybe a teammate or two, they’re the people we are most likely to remember when the others fade from mind.
Teachers everywhere are being celebrated, with National Teacher Appreciation Week, running May 6-10. Recognizing the hard work that goes into educating our young, we asked Lincoln County educators why they decided to take up that role, and what gets them out of bed in the morning.
We found out they really care about kids and helping shape a bright future. But they said it better in their own words:
“Everything else was boring. I also tried being a nutritionist but found people are really stuck in their eating habits and that was frustrating. So I thought if I could teach nutrition while kids are young, are open-minded, and willing to change some of those habits then it's worth my time.
“Getting in there, hands-on, and working directly with students — I like seeing them light up and be excited about what they are doing and feel they are important to the process. They catch on so fast and then later when they realize how much they can do and the responsibility they have in my classroom, it is definitely inspiring.”
— Julia Westbrook, CTE, Food & Nutrition, Culinary Arts and Early Childhood Education at Taft 7-12
“As a small child, I was inspired by and looked up to the teachers I had. I knew at a very early age that I wanted to become a teacher. It’s really the only thing I ever wanted to do or become. As I got older I simply became truly passionate about working for children, protecting them, inspiring them and challenging them to become their ‘best self.’
“My alarm clock wakes me but making sure I’m there for my students is what gets me to work. The relationships we create with our kids is crucial. If I’m not there, I have no idea how their day is going to go. Child A needs constant reassurance, child B needs to hold my hand eight times, child C needs to put my hair in a ponytail at least twice, kids D E F and G need to do sharing because it’s just that important to them. Those are the little things that end up being the big things. Not one of which had any academic content. That’s what gets me up, because I know all those things need to happen in order for them to be academically successful each day.”
— Erinne Irish, Kindergarten teacher, Toledo Elementary School
“The profession chose me. After watching my dad teach for 46 years in Arizona, being a teacher was not my first choice. I watched him have three jobs to take care of us, make sure we had food on the table and pay for our college educations. I got a job in college working at an after school program and got hooked creating activities for kids to enjoy the three hours after school together. I moved to go to college and found a teaching program that allowed us to be in K-5 classrooms for half a day and learning college classes the other half. Getting to teach in different grade levels allowed me to find my passion and solidified my decision to become a teacher for my career. After doing this for my final year of college, I knew I was going to follow in my dad’s footsteps.
“After 21 years, I still enjoy creating lessons that allow students to learn about the world around them. Teaching science about the ocean, forests, and Oregon history keeps me on my toes, as those are all new to me. There are so many opportunities to take kids places to get hands-on experiences, and we look forward to every trip. Every day is different and I get to wear a variety of hats all day. Finally, I like the idea of being a part of their lives — and decisions that do live on far beyond our classroom.”
— Adam Galen, 4th grade teacher, Sam Case Elementary
“Create change, at the root of society, one mind at a time. Well, more like 30-40 at a time depending on class size.
“When water meets a barrier it may appear to sit idle. In reality water is exploring all the crooks and crannies that the barrier may obtain. Eventually water begins to seep through. Over time, the water will turn the smallest crack into a new path to advance forward. Eventually, water will mold the barrier and clear out anything in its path. Some youths build barriers. Like water, I work to find a way through. In time, I work to dissolve those barriers and open the floodgates of knowledge. So what inspires me each morning you ask? Is today the day we make a breakthrough?”
— Isaac Bass, Mathematics teacher, Newport High School
“I was an Outdoor School counselor six times in high school. One week we had special needs students. I connected with them and found I could teach them. At that point I decided I may be good at that profession.
“What gets me out of bed in the morning? Making a difference in people's lives by teaching skills to students that will better their lives.”
Donna Norris, Special Education, ECEL PROGRAM, Newport High School