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Education Heroes: Syndi McIver

Syndi McIverOne Lake Oswego mother of four is ensuring that local students learn firsthand the meaning of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso’s famous quote, “Everything you can imagine is real.”

Syndi McIver’s been involved in the art literacy program at the elementary or junior high level for nearly a decade, helping students bring their imagination to life in the medium of their choice. Her involvement gradually evolved into leadership roles.

“Don’t be afraid to step into a leadership role,” McIver says. “A lot of people are willing to help, but they don’t think they have the experience to lead. But it’s amazing what you can do for your kids.”

With the help of co-leaders, she has coordinated the parent volunteer-run art literacy program at Lakeridge Junior High for six years. For the last two years, she’s been a member of the five-person art literacy board that oversees the school coordinators, serving the Lake Oswego School District and Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School.

Volunteering offers “wonderful opportunities and lots of fun,” says McIver, 46. “I’ve gotten so much out of it, because I’ve learned about so many artists and so many techniques that I wouldn’t have been exposed to if I hadn’t been in this program.”

Parent participation in volunteer activity drops off when children reach junior high, but McIver says that’s an age when kids need to connect with adults.

“Kids at any age, even the teenagers who won’t admit it, do love to see parents around the school,” McIver says, “and know that you’re at least informed and, better yet, involved. ... Whether it’s their parents or not, they see an adult taking an interest in their schooling, and it helps them realize how important education is.”

McIver has also helped organize fifth- and eighth-grade graduation celebrations and taught kids mini lessons during lunch breaks on rainy days. She’s also helped with school auctions, Scrabble clubs, “you name it,” she says.

Even outside of schools, she continues her education efforts as a docent for the nonprofit Arts Council of Lake Oswego’s Gallery Without Walls, giving free tours of dozens of outdoor sculptures.

She’s president of the Young Women Group at her church and still finds time to craft stained-glass windows and fused-glass jewelry and vases through her formative business, Synderella’s Glass. She hopes to have an Esty page for it soon.

McIver also loves to spend time with her children, ages 13 to 21; her husband, Robert; and the family’s 8-year-old Labradoodle. McIver met her husband while she was in college at Brigham Young University and working at a summer job at a hot springs resort in Canada. He had a work visa and was from the United Kingdom, majoring in English and American literature; her area of focus was international studies, so it seemed like a perfect match.

They came to Lake Oswego 10 years ago, not far from her hometown of Dundee. And here she’s found a home, reveling in the outdoors and involvement in the arts.

“I’m not working right now — well, I have a job; I’m just not paid for it,” McIver says. “But I love what I do.”

To learn more about art literacy, email lakeoswegoartliteracy@gmail.com or visit lakeoswegoartliteracy.org.

To nominate a hard-working member of the education community as an Education Hero, email Jillian Daley at jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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