Boring, Welches schools welcome new educators
This is a big year for the Oregon Trail School District as a whole, especially in terms of staffing. Many teachers have moved on to other districts and positions, and nine retired in June, leaving big shoes to fill.
Six new teachers joined the Boring Middle School family last week, and Welches Elementary welcomed a new kindergarten teacher.
Benno Lyon, 43
Benno Lyon's career in education technically started when he was a senior in high school. He was an outdoor school leader for middle school students, and from the experience found he loved teaching.
Now he is enjoying his second week of teaching science at Boring Middle School.
"It's a really engaging job full of relationships and people," he explained. "The only time you're looking at the clock is to see if class is ending."
Lyon considers himself a Portland native, having spent many of his formative years in the metro area. He received his bachelor's degree in environmental science from the University of Oregon and his master's degree in teaching from Pacific University.
With his new position and a new year full of opportunities, Lyon hopes to be an asset to the Boring community.
"Every school has a different culture and system," he said. "I'm looking forward to adding some new skills or ways of doing things."
Given his background in environmental science, Lyon enjoys spending time outdoors whenever he can, whether that be through rafting, kayaking, gardening or playing music around a campfire with his family.
Elizabeth Harrison, 34
Teaching wasn't always Elizabeth Harrison's dream career, but once she tried it she was hooked.
"It's awesome," Harrison explained. "It's fun to watch the kids grow and learn."
Harrison is originally from the East Coast, but is no stranger to the Oregon Trail School District, having student taught at Sandy High School.
This year she is "looking forward to getting to know the community, the staff and kids" as an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Boring Middle School.
"I feel like every year I learn so much and grow as much as a teacher as they do as students," she added.
Harrison earned her bachelor's degrees in English and political science from the University of Oregon, and her master's degree in teaching from Concordia.
Prior to Boring Middle, Harrison taught at a private American school in Mexico City.
"I moved up here to be closer to family," Harrison said. That said, most of her time off is spent with loved ones. She also enjoys traveling, snowboarding, soccer and playing with her dog Santi.
Hannah Wise, 25
A love of reading and writing is what led Hannah Wise to the language arts. An enjoyment of interacting with "young people" is what led her to become a teacher.
As a young person herself, the Wenatchee, Wash., native was inspired to pursue a career in education by a "really awesome" seventh-grade teacher, and she later found that the idea of "never doing the same thing every day" was appealing to her too.
This year, Wise happily anticipates new faces becoming familiar as a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Boring Middle School.
"(I look forward to) getting to know a new staff and new kids, and getting involved in a new community," she explained.
Prior to Boring Middle, Wise taught in the Hockinson School District in Brush Prairie, Wash. When she's not teaching, Wise likes to spend time perfecting her golf swing, boating or bowling.
Breanna Gunderson, 33
The word bibliophile doesn't even begin to cover new Boring Middle School sixth-grade language arts teacher Breanna Gunderson.
"I just really love literature," she explained. "So much that I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is how I could get to talk about it all day."
The Troutdale native received her bachelor's degree in English from Portland State University and her master's degree in teaching from Montana State University.
Prior to Boring, she taught sixth- through-eighth-graders at Rock Creek Middle School in Clackamas, and is excited this year to focus more on growing one age group.
"I think it's really really neat to see sixth-graders grow over the year," Gunderson said. "I think they are a group that changes the most."
When she's not working, Gunderson likes to knit and read. Right now she is reading "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Seth Grahame-Smith, but loves Kurt Vonnegut's work the most.
As a longtime science educator, Mary Parnell is definitely excited about the Oregon Trail School District's new Amplify Science program.
She listed the virtual learning system as one of the many things she's looking forward to about her first year at Boring Middle School.
The Chicago native holds a bachelor's degree in geology and political science from the University of Texas and a master's degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, as well as a teaching certification. She worked as a teacher at Taft High School in Lincoln City prior to her move to Boring.
"I teach because I believe in a positive future, and I think the kids will bring the future," Parnell said.
Outside of school Parnell delights in hosting international exchange students as well as traveling internationally herself. She also likes to spend her time leading environmental camps for intercity kids and scuba diving.
Tiffany Hedger, 30
New to Boring Middle School, eighth-grade math teacher Tiffany Hedger is no stranger to the Oregon Trail School District. Last year she taught in the district's Blended Learning Center, and is excited to be at Boring Middle this year where she can help a whole new batch of students.
"I'm looking forward to helping my students overcome that (idea that they can't do math) and helping them be successful," the Oregon City native explained.
Hedger received her bachelor's degree in education and learning and Spanish and her master's degree in teaching from Pacific University.
Her aspirations of being a teacher appeared only shortly before she went away to college.
"I always wanted to be an on-call trauma surgeon," she admitted, laughing.
But after taking cadet training in high school and being allowed to teach math to local second-grade students, Hedger said her dreams changed.
"That was the best part of my day," Hedger said. "I had forgotten what it was like to want to be at school."
When Hedger isn't at school, she loves spending time with her 2-month-old son, saying "he is definitely one of my favorite ways to (consume) my time."
She also enjoys camping, gardening and watching sports.
Kaitlin Schaaf, 23
Kaitlin Schaaf is trading in her barista apron for a spot at the front of the class as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher at Welches Elementary School.
She has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Eastern Oregon University and is ready to use her education to make an impact on young minds.
"I just love knowing that I can make a difference in children's lives and really be a positive influence on them," Schaaf said of why she pursued a career in teaching.
Originally from Gresham, Schaaf noted that "(Welches) seems like a great community to work for."
"Everyone seems really supportive," she added. "I'm happy to be up here. I'm looking forward to building relationships with my students and seeing all of the potential growth that they can make."
When she's not working, Schaaf enjoys spending time with her husband and family, boating and camping.