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Oregon Trail celebrates longtime teacher-counselor

Steve Snow says it's important to keep kids 'safe, confident and happy'
by: Lisa K. Anderson Steve Snow interviews R.J. Koi, a fourth-grade student at Naas Elementary School, about his hobbies and interests. “He helps a lot,” R.J. says of Snow.

Wednesday, Oct. 5, marks World Teachers' Day, a celebration observed in more than 100 countries. The day began in 1994 as a way to honor teachers' contributions in molding future generations.

Today, The Post honors the longtime dedication of an Oregon Trail School District educator, Steve Snow.

For 48 years, Steve Snow, has gone back to school.

'I hardly ever cry on the first day anymore,' he tells elementary school students, joking.

His first day of kindergarten, though, Snow was inconsolable. Kids and teachers comforted him, but he couldn't stop crying, and his mom had to take him home.

The next day, knowing how kind everyone was, Snow returned and had a great day at school.

'I tell the students, 'This is why everyone needs to be kind to each other,'' he says.

Snow, 59, has been a well-loved teacher and counselor in the Oregon Trail School District for 27 years, now divvying his time as a counselor for Naas and Kelso elementary schools and Sandy Grade School.

'He has a talent of connecting with kids that's very rare as far as I'm concerned,' says Pat Sanders, Kelso Elementary School principal.

Snow grew up in the Gresham area, attending Barlow High School, Mt. Hood Community College and Portland State University.

His wife, Cindy, who he met in high school, is a Title 1 assistant at Sandy Grade School and has spent 16 years in the district. The two have a daughter, Sarah Jetté, son, Andy, and two grandchildren -- fifth-generation Oregonians - all of whom live close by.

Originally, Snow thought he might become a lawyer. 'If you had me list 1,000 things I thought I'd be doing at age 18, a counselor at the grade school level wouldn't make the list,' Snow says. 'But it's been the best fit, and I've enjoyed it so much.'

As a counselor and educator, Snow says his goal is to keep children safe, confident and happy.

Lisa Hunt, a speech pathologist assistant at Naas, says she appreciates Snow's listening. 'He never has a look in his eye that he needs you to hurry up. For children, he looks like he has all the time to listen.'

As Snow walks through the halls of Naas on a Friday morning, kids flag him down. 'Mr. Snow! Mr. Snow!' they say. 'Where's Pumsy?'

The light blue dragon puppet 'from England' makes her rounds with Snow, but today she's at Kelso Elementary. Pumsy receives invitations to children's birthday parties and is in popular demand around the schools.

'It takes her 10 hours to get here by plane, and 30 minutes in dragon time,' Snow says, reassuring the students she'll be back soon.

Outside of school, Snow enjoys spending time with his grandkids and watching movies. At the end of the year Snow produces movies for Sandy Grade School with the teachers as actors.

'We did 'Wizard of Oz' in 10 minutes,' Snow says.

Snow is invited to former students' life celebrations, such as weddings, and hears their memories of him. 'It always feels so good when they make a point to see you,' Snow says.

He says it's fun to see children of his former students at the schools, but jokes that when he one day sees grandkids, it's time to retire.

'Most of all, I enjoy working with kids,' Snow says. 'No two days are ever the same.'