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Gresham High's Michael Lindblad named state Teacher of the Year

Lindblad advocates for students of color, encourages community involvement and offers a global perspective


Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Michael Lindblad, a Gresham High School social studies teacher, receives congratulations from students after he was named the 2015 Oregon Teacher of the Year.

An uproarious cheer filled the Gresham High School gym Friday afternoon as social studies teacher Michael Lindblad was named the 2015 Oregon Teacher of the Year.

Students, faculty, family, friends, school leaders and community dignitaries celebrated the beloved teacher who has spent the past 15 years at Gresham High.

“Michael is a master teacher with a strong commitment to equity, high expectations for all of his students, and a passion for preparing today’s young people to be engaged, globally aware citizens,” said Rob Saxton, Oregon deputy superintendent of public instruction. “He is an outstanding representative of the teaching profession.”

Saxton described Lindblad as a teacher who activates wonder, challenges his students to accomplish things they never thought they could and believes their work can and does change the world.

Lindblad, he said, is an engaging and demanding expert with instruction and a lifelong learner who constantly refines how he teaches in an effort to improve.

“He just has the heart and soul of a teacher,” said Linblad’s uncle, Norm Myhr, who attended the assembly with many family members, mentors and friends.

Lindblad teaches global studies and International Baccalaureate (IB) History of the Americas, specializing in world and Latin American history.

Each year his students raise awareness or funds in the community to help local, national or international causes through his popular humanitarian project.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Students cheer for Michael Lindblad, a Gresham High School social studies teacher, during an assembly as Lindblad is named the 2015 Oregon Teacher of the Year.

“He is willing to meet students where they’re at and add this interesting, creative flair to teaching history,” Amanda Weber-Welch, a longtime friend and colleague, said in an earlier interview with The Outlook when Lindblad was named State Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the Oregon Council for the Social Studies. “He makes civic engagement very real, way beyond learning about a political process.”

Lindblad grew up in Portland and received his bachelor’s degree at Linfield College, where he had a baseball scholarship. He later received his teacher’s certificate from Lewis and Clark College and began his teaching career at Lakeridge High School.

But Lake Oswego felt too confining and safe. Lindblad spent a year in South America and decided he would return to a school in the United States with a more diverse student population.

During his time at Gresham High, the district’s Latino population grew from 3 to 25 percent. Advocating for students of color and promoting education equity is hugely important to Lindblad.

“All of my students are capable of so much, and part of the joy of teaching is watching them learn and grow past what they thought possible,” Lindblad said in a news release. “I’m deeply committed to helping many of my students become the first in their families to attend college, and one way I can support that is by encouraging all of my kids to take rigorous IB college prep classes. In my classes, we have a keen focus on literacy. Students are constantly reading, participating in animated, student-led discussions, and writing on-demand essays that allow them to practice vital literacy skills as they learn about and explore our nation’s history.”

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Michael Lindblad, a Gresham High School social studies teacher, thanks those who helped him along the way during an assembly as Lindblad is named the 2015 Oregon Teacher of the Year.

Lindblad developed Gresham’s International Baccalaureate history program, advocating for intensive outreach in recruiting more students of color for the course. He also designed a special history class for English language learners (ELL) designed to create an appreciation for their language and culture.

Lindblad has helped mentor more than 20 student teachers during his career.

“Teachers need to understand the community in which they work — to go out and mobilize it in ways, whether it be a humanitarian project or talking about the school,” Lindblad said in a previous Outlook story. “A lot of people think you can stay inside school and expect everything to keep going well.

“It’s incredibly important for these young people to get outside the classroom, to use professional skills and raise awareness or funds for important issues in our society.”

As Teacher of the Year, Lindblad will serve as a spokesman and representative for all Oregon teachers. In April he will attend the Washington Recognition Week for Teachers of the Year in Washington, D.C., where he will meet President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Lindblad also will receive a $5,000 cash award.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Michael Lindblad's family was on hand at an assembly at Gresham High School to help celebrate his recognition as the 2015 Oregon Teacher of the Year. Lindblad's twin sons are Michael, left, being held by grandmother Cheryl Lindblad, and Angelo, who is held by Angela Lindblad, Lindblad's wife.

Because Friday’s announcement was a surprise for most of the crowd, Gresham Principal John Koch joked how rumors had spread that Neil Patrick Harris would make an appearance. Though there were no celebrity sightings, students were thrilled by the outcome of Friday’s assembly.

Colleague Weber-Welch said earlier that Lindblad has a magnetic presence with students.

“He’s inspired me to be more involved in the community and with other minorities around me,” said senior Ben Cheredayko. “He pushes you and treats everyone equally. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him.”

Sophomore Maria Saleh said Lindblad had the ability to make subjects more interesting than she initially thought they would be. Though her friend Jennifer Ostapenko hasn’t had Lindblad for a class yet, she noted that he always greeted her by name in the hall, saying “Hi, Jennifer. How are you?”

Along with a room full of supportive colleagues and students, many of Lindblad’s family members, friends and mentors beamed with pride at the assembly.

“I’m just speechless and very proud,” said his father, Clarence.

Lindblad and his wife, Angela, have three grown daughters, Diana, Sophia and Ana; two 20-month-old twin sons, Michael and Angelo; and one granddaughter.

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