Sandy High says hello to creative new staff
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.
At Sandy High School, five new teachers will start next Wednesday, teaching everything from math to theater, and also trying their best to learn as much from their students as possible about what it is to be a Pioneer.
Andrew Stanfield, 40
New to not only Sandy, but the educational field, Stanfield is "excited to get involved" and pass on the knowledge he's garnered from years of behind-the-scenes experience.
Stanfield will teach digital design classes as part of Sandy High School's growing career technical education program.
Previously, the Albany native has worked in TV and movies, and done his fair share of sports announcing, which he hopes to continue while at Sandy. He received his bachelor's degree in cinema and broadcast arts from Azuza Pacific University in California.
"It's like if a carpenter taught wood shop," he said of his transition into teaching. "I really feel confident about what I know ... and I've worked with youth in the past. I love this age group."
When he's not busy getting acquainted with his new classroom and creating curriculum, Stanfield enjoys spending time with his two children and performing stand-up comedy.
Colin Murray, 40
Since graduating from Sandy High School in 1994, Colin Murray has become quite the class act, though he only began teaching about five years ago at Reed College.
Murray received his bachelor's degree in theater from Willamette University and master's degree in directing from the University of Portland. Now he plans to utilize his education and years of acting experience to teach a new generation of thespians at his alma mater as the drama teacher.
"At the end of the day, I prefer the give and take of an educational setting — that sharing of information," he noted of his choice to step back from taking center stage to mentoring young actors. "I've never been far away. I'm looking forward to getting to know the community again as a member rather than a visitor."
Aside from teaching, Murray does still act and direct on occasion in Portland, but sees his new role taking up quite a bit of his time. When he's not teaching, he plans to devote much of his free time with his family.
Caleb Stringer, 27
In its search for a new advanced mathematics teacher to fit into the high school's equation, the district found Dayton native Caleb Stringer.
Stringer has a bachelor's degree in math from Linfield College and a master's degree in teaching from Pacific University, and he hopes his new position in Sandy will create a great learning environment not only for his students, but himself.
The young educator previously taught at Aloha High School in the Beaverton School District.
"(I'm looking forward to) just learning the community," he said. "I think it will be cool. I get to learn things from the students, and they get to learn from me."
For Stringer, a number of highly "influential" teachers are why he became an educator himself, and he wants to "make a difference" in the lives of his students, as his teachers did in his.
"It's kind of something I've always wanted to do," he added.
Outside of school, Stringer is a major fly fisher, and he plans to try his hand on the Sandy River the first chance he gets.
Leesa Pomazi, 53
After 35 years, Leesa Pomazi has returned to home teach special education resource classes at her alma mater.
She graduated from Sandy High in 1982, then moved to Arkansas to obtain her bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Central Arkansas.
"I graduated from Sandy High, it just took me a long time to get back here," she said. "I'm excited to be back in Oregon."
Pomazi spent 20 years teaching in Van Buren, Ark., and 10 years at Clarksville, Ark., but never before has she worked at the high school level.
"This is my first time teaching high school," she explained. "I'm excited ... to prepare them for life after high school."
Seven years ago, Pomazi actually married her high school sweetheart, which prompted her recent move back to Sandy.
"It's almost surreal," she said of being back. "It's home, but it's a different home now."
Lucky for Pomazi, Mount Hood is always readily available because she loves hiking when she's off the clock. She is also looking forward to still traveling in her spare time and visiting the Oregon coast.
Jacqueline Morgon, 29
Fresh out of student teaching at the Arts & Communications Magnet Academy in Beaverton, Jacqueline Morgon is looking forward to cultivating a love of reading and writing as a language arts teacher at Sandy High School.
"I'm really excited to meet all the kids," Morgon said, adding that she hopes to nurture existing bibliophiles' love for English, and create an appreciation in those where there isn't one.
The Beaverton native said she initially never planned to be a teacher, though her friends all predicted she would as she studied for her bachelor's degree in English from Oregon State University.
What "tipped the tables," she explained, was her younger sister's experience in high school.
"I really wanted to be an educator that made high school a better experience," Morgon noted.
When Morgon isn't teaching, she's reading or enjoying a day in with her fiancé, playing video games. Her current book of choice is "Wildwood" by Portland musician/author Colin Meloy. She says she's trying to acquaint herself with more contemporary young adult literature.