Growing up in sunny Southern California, I was fortunate to have parents who valued the importance of authentic, experiential learning (although I’m not sure if they would call it that)! My brother and I didn’t realize it then, but as we helped my dad work on his old red Thunderbird in the garage, prospected for sand crabs on the beaches of our coastal hometown, dug elaborate trench systems in the backyard and conducted (often ill-fated) baking experiments, we were actually constructing firsthand knowledge about physics, life and Earth science, math and chemistry. We also traveled quite a bit. Much of my childhood was spent traveling in Mexico (mostly Baja California) and Costa Rica as well as New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia. These experiences, coupled with an insatiable curiosity about the world and how it works, inform who I am as a person and the ideals of exploration and inquiry that I bring into the classroom.
I hold an Oregon State Multiple Subjects Teaching License (TSPC, OR) and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential (CCTC, CA) as well as a Bachelor of Arts with a Writing / Poetry Concentration from The New School in New York, NY. Before becoming a general education teacher, I worked in K-5 special education in both private and public school settings. During this time, I partnered with some incredibly talented teachers to learn to differentiate for a wide variety of learners.
In addition to having served as a lead teacher in kindergarten, fifth grade, and mixed-age classrooms, I have tutored privately for over ten years and served as a volunteer writing tutor for 826 LA and a mentor for at-risk teenage girls in California. As a teacher and mentor, my highest priority is helping young people to connect to their own learning processes. I believe that a teacher’s job is to facilitate the development of robust core academic and critical thinking skills, to honor curiosity, and to empower students to actively participate in their communities. Learning can only occur when a student is involved and invested in his or her own educational process, and my job as a teacher is to inspire that investment by bridging the gap between core content and a student’s everyday world.
When I am not at Trillium with my awesome students, I can be found hiking with my husband and our wily terrier mix, baking, dancing, reading, listening to the blues, or just embracing the beautiful gray days of Portland with a cup of strong, black coffee in hand.
Kindergarten & 1st Grade
Born and raised in Southeast Portland and I have essentially lived in the same neighborhood from Kindergarten through college. I was lucky enough to graduate high school with friends who were in the same Kindergarten class with me. I lived in a cul-de-sac filled with young families and spent summers creating backyard shows with singing and dancing, holding our own Rose Festival complete with Rose Princess pulled around in a Radio Flyer, and playing a souped up version of hide and go seek called “SPIES!”. This kind of freedom to create and play, instilled in me a sense of how important the power of play is.
I didn’t always want to be a teacher. Travel agent, historian (ala Shelby Foote), and movie critic were at the top of my list while I was trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do. While I was an administrative assistant in a car audio factory, I finally decided it was time I go back to school. In 2000, I recieved a B.S. in Human Development with an ECE minor from Warner Pacific College. My first teaching job was at CityKids Child Development (a division of Joyful Noise Child Development Centers) where I was a Lead Teacher in the Young Preschool classroom. There I really learned to be patient and marveled at the learning and triumphs of children 2-3 years old, such as learning how to spear food using a fork, how to use the potty, and how to put socks on.
The next few years I honed my craft teaching at a variety of schools. I moved to Las Vegas and taught third and first grade and then I moved back to Portland and taught kindergarten part-time for two years, as well as working for Student Support Services in the North Clackamas School District. Finally, I decided to move back to Las Vegas to have a more consistent teaching experience and was lucky enough to be hired at Eileen B. Brookman Elementary School where I taught first grade for 5 years while going back to school and getting a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction: Arts Integrated into the Curriculum from Lesley University and a Masters in Early Childhood and Special Education from University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). My last year of teaching at Brookman I taught Early Childhood Special Education for 3, 4, and 5 year olds. I was at Brookman for six years and was able to see children that I taught in first grade graduate and go on to middle school. I was able to establish relationships with families and teach siblings and cousins, and that experience of creating a family at a school has been one of the highlights of my career. However, I always longed to come back home and in 2011 I returned to Portland and back to my first employer Joyful Noise Child Development Center where I was a teacher in the Toddler Classroom. I then transferred to the Lloyd Center Joyful Noise where I was asked to take over the Older Preschool Classroom this past June.
When I was offered the Kindergarten position at Trillium I was very excited at the prospect of teaching in a democratic school. I feel like I am finally able to marry what I know and believe about child development and how children learn best, and that my experience and beliefs are not only valued, but shared by the school community at large. My goal for kindergarten this year is not only to teach children the skills they will need to prepare them for first grade and become life-long learners, but to create a sense community and memories that will stay with them the rest of their lives.