Where heart and mind meet
Beloved Gresham High counselor Scott Lipner retires after 18 years Lipner is planning an '18 in one' reunion for former students this fall
When he stepped into his first classroom as a high school teacher 33 years ago, Scott Lipner immediately felt at home.
Though I came from a family of intellectual heavy weights, I knew my calling card would be my heart, Lipner said. I couldnt help it I just felt an experience before I understood it or could explain it. ...Its why ultimately, I found my true purpose in education.
After 18 years as a beloved Gresham High School counselor, Lipner is retiring at the end of this month. He is planning an 18 in one reunion this September for all the students he has counseled at Gresham High since 1995.
Those students include early alumni, David Lovelin, principal of Sam Barlow High School, and Stephanie Kralevich, a meteorologist and reporter with FOX 12.
Its really a way to say thanks and know how their lives have evolved, Lipner said. To let them know how much I appreciate and value them.
At a farewell party Tuesday, June 11, Lipner also kept the focus on appreciating his students and fellow staff members, donning a bright red t-shirt with the words, I love my students.
He cares for the students on a deeper level than most people, said Jessie Stone, a 2013 Gresham High graduate. Thats what makes him so special.
Originally from the Los Angles area, Lipner first taught at an alternative school named SELF in the Irvine Unified School District before pursuing his masters degree in education at Oregon State University and masters degree of counseling at Portland State University.
Lipner worked for three alternative schools through Multnomah Education Service District from 1985 to 1988, then Alpha High School until he came to Gresham High in 1995.
Nothing has been more heart warming than seeing an at-risk student turn it around, Lipner said. I call them my comeback kids. Nothing has been more uplifting and inspirational than the amazing achievements of the superstars (those with high GPAs, multiple talents and impeccable character). I call them my Ultimate Froggies.
Ive always wanted to make students feel better, no matter whether it was about their class schedule, relationship with friends or family members, college or scholarship searching or a personal internal conflict.
Along with serving as a high school counselor and an adviser for Outdoor School (sponsored by MESD) Lipner made his passion for photography into a side business, taking many senior portraits for his students and acting as staff photographer for various staff events.
He took one of the best pictures of me Ive had in 10 years, said Susan Fields, a fellow counselor. He uses counseling skills and really helps people feel comfortable and relaxed. There just wont be another Lipner.
In retirement, Lipner plans to pursue photography full time, play acoustic guitar and tend to his huge Asian garden that has been photographed for Sunset Magazine and featured on Mike Darcys In The Garden morning television show.
His office was home to hundreds of student photos, along with more than 500 frog stuffed animals and trinkets. Lipner and his students are making the photos into a scrapbooks, while Lipner and his students donated the frogs to the Gresham Department of Human Services for foster children.
The frog frenzy began when Lipner taught next to teachers with a pig and cow-themed classroom. He saw frogs as a metaphor for his life philosophy.
Life is everchanging, Lipner said. Life is change and transformation. I want life to always have that whimsy and playful quality.
Lipner has also been known as the Jolly Rancher man, keeping a stash in his office as a way to connect with students.
I never wanted to grow up, which probably allowed me to better serve my students, Lipner said. Hence, the frogs and toys in my office. I was able to take an adult intelligence and wisdom from the years of experience and combine that with a childlike presence, which maybe seemed more inviting to the students...
The whole school community has been my family, Lipner said. This is what I chose for my life.
To learn more about the 18 in one reunion this fall, email Lipner at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is planning to charge $5 to $10 at the reunion that will go toward expenses and the Gresham High School Options program.
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