I grew up in the high desert of Central Oregon with a backyard of beauty; big, old rocks, the awesome Deschutes river, and twisted juniper. My parents were both teachers, and I was a kid that loved learning in and out of school. My observations and explorations of nature inspired my creative pursuits and in fourth grade I finally identified myself as an “artist”. In high school I focused on arts and theatre, and was simultaneously on track to become a pilot and an astronaut ( I know, what a contrast; but, I’m full of surprises).
I traveled to the Oregon valley to go to college. There I realized my attraction to studying the culture of community, social interaction and people. I frequented concerts, camp outs and classrooms. In 2000, I received a degree in Sociology with an emphasis in deviance and social “control” and also got married to Jacob, an amazing musician and best friend. I was often drawn to teaching and learning with kids; however, I was unsure; most likely because it was something my parents did (ah… rebellion). My interests in meaningful, authentic curricula, the possibilities of different kinds of learning experiences in public ed., and my plans to integrate my other passions, led me to grad school and then to the classrooms of Springfield, OR. I have had the opportunity to teach kindergarten, 3rd grade, 5th grade, intermediate blends, and serve as a TAG coordinator as well as a math and literacy specialist. I then took a leave to adventure, “muck around” and learn lots with my kids; Ruby and Miles.
We then relocated to Portland and I searched for schools that intrigued me. When I read “About Trillium” and the goals, I felt an instant connection with the school; most likely a result of our common interests in student choice, a cooperative classroom culture, and fostering both the individual’s and group’s learning process. As a teacher, I work to co-create a classroom community of problem solvers, where students feel safe and well-equipped to engage in meaningful discourse, independent and innovative thought, and worthwhile activities. I am a creative, curious and passionate learner and support those qualities in both the students and the teachers I work with. I promote a depth of sense making and self-awareness and because I think the asking of great questions propels great action, I use inquiry as a springboard for learning.
When not teaching, I am playing, creating and producing (printmaking and jewelry/metalsmith are my crafty interests at present), reading (mostly non-fiction and children’s picture books), and exploring Portland and beyond.
Who I am as a human being comes directly from growing up in the forests and fields of rural SW Washington. As a child I would walk off into the woods with my dog, Shadow, and sometimes my older brother, letting my parents know that we’d be back in time for lunch or dinner. We’d make tree forts, booby-traps, pick huckleberries, and skip rocks in the creek. Having that freedom to explore and develop a direct connection with the natural world lies deep in the core of my heart. The fact is I do enjoy hugging trees. At the same time, school was always important to me but what I studied never truly resonated with me. At first I thought I wanted to be some kind of scientist but deep down I knew that wasn’t true. After graduating from Clark Community College in 2001 I finally found a purpose for school and I decided to move to Canada to study hand-drawn animation. I did quite well. My student film took me to Annecy in France and Ottawa in Canada, and it was an amazing time but something still felt missing. The kind of work I could get in animation didn’t exactly appeal to me and so I chose serving pizza in Portland over storyboarding bad television. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.
Over the following years my passion for drawing evolved to include my interest in books. In 2006 I received a Xeric Grant to self-publish my first comic book. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to have other people offer to publish my work for me. With those publishers I’ve put out an all-ages graphic novel, and two children’s books. (Currently my graphic novel is being translated into French, which needless to say, is a dream come true.) All this time that I’ve been drawing, of course, I have been pursuing teaching with even more passion and determination. In 2007 my future wife first planted the idea of becoming a teacher in my head. With that, I went back to school to finish my BS at Portland State University. There, I had my first in-class experience tutoring and observing at Sunnyside Environmental School. Eventually, I enrolled in graduate school at Lewis and Clark, steeping myself further in constructivist theory. While receiving my Masters in Teaching I spent a year student-teaching 5th grade at Buckman Arts Focus School, where I worked hard to integrate curricula and make student learning meaningful and relevant to all of our lives. At the same time I had the opportunity to observe and teach mini-lessons to K-2 graders who, at one time, looked so small to me.
The following year I accepted a position at Tumbleweed Infant House, LLC in SE Portland. Working with a diverse range of children from 2-4 years in age gave me a strong foundation in language development, and structuring learning around student interest. It was while teaching preschool that I fell in love with the teaching practices of Reggio Emilia, a teaching approach that emphasizes not only the student, but the environment and the community as well. Now I find myself in the extremely fortunate position, working at a Trillium Charter School where their philosophy is just the same. I can’t wait to find out what my students are interested in and to begin charting a path from there. I love the way Trillium encourages students to take ownership and responsibility over their lives, and with my ongoing experience as an author I know this will allow me to bring a unique knowledge and energy to my class. I expect to learn as much from my students as they do from each other and myself.
2nd & 3rd Grade Teacher
It seems no matter where my life’s adventures have taken me; my heart always leads me back home to Oregon. Originally from Eugene, my family and I moved up to the Portland area whenI was still young. Growing up in a small town on the foothills of Mt. Hood, I got to enjoy the Oregon experience in full! Spending most of my days outside in the sunshine, rain, and snow I am very proud to call myself an Oregonian. While attending Portland State University as an undergrad, I always had an interest in becoming a teacher. It was not until my final year at PSU that I discovered how far I was willing to go to achieve my goal.
While attending a job fair in the fall of 2004, I had the opportunity to apply for a teaching position half way around the world in Tokyo, Japan! I was thrilled when I was offered the position. Rather than jump right in to graduate school, I made the decision to spend a year teaching in Japan to make sure this was really what I wanted. It took about five minutes on my very first day in the classroom, in a country that was very foreign to me, to know this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! I ended up spending a total of three years in Japan teaching elementary and Jr. High School English. My time in Japan truly helped define who I am as a teacher today. I love to share my experience and passion for the Japanese language and culture with my students.
Upon returning to Oregon in 2008 I was thrilled to be accepted into the graduate M.A.T. program at Lewis and Clark College. While attending Lewis and Clark I built some wonderful relationships with a truly extraordinary group of people. After graduating, I spent the next year working as a substitute teacher in Tigard-Tualatin, West Linn/Wilsonville, and North Clackamas school districts. This past school year I spent up north in the Alaskan tundra teaching at a small school in the Bristol Bay Region. When I wasn’t ice fishing or trekking through the snow, I spent my days missing Oregon. I am so pleased to have been offered the job here at Trillium, and I am truly excited about working with my students and watching them grow. When you get to know me, you will find that I have a very easy going personality and will do whatever it takes to make sure my students success.