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This crown goes to above-average heights

Meet Miss Tall Portland: Beaverton teacher Jane Baldwin
by: Jaime Valdez, Jane Baldwin was recently crowned Miss Tall Portland for the second time. She will compete in the Miss Tall International Pageant in July. The Kinnaman teacher was the first runner-up in the 2006 international competition.

Jane Baldwin had an edge in her bid for Miss Tall Portland: Coaching advice from her fifth-grade students.

The 6-foot-2 Kinnaman Elementary School teacher was recently crowned Miss Tall Portland 2007 in the Portland Skyliners Tall Club pageant much to the delight of her co-workers, students and parents who cheered her on from the audience.

Fifth-graders Hallie Wahlstrom and Susie Warwick gave their teacher high marks for her performance in the pageant.

Using the same grading system they use to critique their peers' speeches in the classroom, they awarded Baldwin fives for excellence in her ideas and content, organization, language and word choice, and overall delivery.

'It was exciting having her win the crown,' Wahlstrom said.

Warwick nodded her head in agreement.

'It was cool knowing that she's our teacher,' Warwick added. 'It was nice to have her win something that she worked so hard on.'

And they know how much Baldwin invested in her preparation for the pageant.

Baldwin decided that in her second bid for the title she would enlist the assistance of her pupils, asking them for feedback on her writing and speeches.

'I wanted to involve my students in the process,' Baldwin said. 'I wanted to show them that the skills I was teaching them in the classroom were not something artificial.

'I wanted to show them that they were learning skills adults use and need.'

When she told her students that she needed a revising buddy, they jumped at the chance to edit and revise her speeches and script for her skit.

But their advice did not stop there.

Students also delighted in offering their two cents on her homemade dress designs and prop ideas for her skit.

'She was the only one competing who made her own dress,' Warwick said proudly. 'I think that was cool.'

Both girls said they learned a lot from watching their teacher.

'I learned that it's easier to remember things if you have props set up in the order that you are going to use them,' Warwick said. 'Ms. Baldwin was the most organized.'

Rehearsing in front of the class and getting feedback from other people helped too, Wahlstrom added.

'She practiced and was prepared so she was more confident,' Wahlstrom.

In addition to highlighting real-life applications for writing and public speaking skills, Baldwin also succeeded in using the process to talk to students about stereotypes, body image and the importance of building self-confidence.

'Jane is a role model for all those big and little girls who don't look just like everyone else,' said Jan McCall, the school principal. 'We're all so proud of her.'