This trailblazing group of educators will be learning and working together this year:
My name is Sarah Anderson. I live in Portland, Oregon with my husband and 5-year-old son. I used to be a 7th/8th grade humanities teacher, but I am now the place-based education and fieldwork coordinator for the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science. I was a classroom teacher for eight years before I moved into a teacher-support position. I currently have my dream job – I work with both teachers and community partners to build meaningful, relevant projects anchored in our place. I also coordinate over 100 field trips a year!
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? I am excited to work with teachers from around the state who are passionate about civic education. I look forward to learning more about what engaging projects people are doing in their classrooms.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? The most pressing issues in the next school year are media literacy, voting rights, and climate change.
My name is William “Mick” Bittick, and I live and teach in Waldport, Oregon. I teach high school social studies, history, government and economics. I have been teaching for 26 years, the last 16 at Waldport High School. The best part of my job is watching students learn to express and support their ideas.
Who was your favorite teacher? Mr. Lee Polisky was my high school history teacher, he allowed his students to ask questions that led to deeper understanding.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? The biggest issue in civics education today is to get students to understand their role in our democracy, and how to be part of a participatory democracy.
I am Susan Casey and I am a social studies teacher at Eagle Point High School, in Eagle Point, Oregon. My course load for the 2019/2020 school year will be AP Government, AP Human Geography, and an AVID elective course. This is my second year teaching.
Who was your favorite teacher? Mrs. Lenore was my favorite high school teacher. I took German under her and learned so much more than the language – she taught us life lessons that I still remember today. More than that, she cared about us as human beings and genuinely wanted the best for us in life. This is one thing I carry with me and why I teach; I want my students to know there’s someone in their corner, no matter what.
What are you looking forward to about the Abby Cohort? I’m looking forward to learning more teaching strategies and how law impacts our students lives. Having members all over the state with whom I can partner on issues will make me an even better teacher. I want to arm my students with information on how to take control of their lives and how they can be the change they want to see in the world.
My name is Carly Clark, and I live in the Portland-Metro area. I am a middle school Social Studies and Language Arts teacher at Meridian Creek Middle School located in Wilsonville, Oregon. I teach 7th grade Language Arts, 8th grade Social Studies, and work with English Language Learners (ELL). I am currently completing my fourth year of teaching, my first in the WLWV School District. Prior, I taught high school Social Studies in Central Oregon.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? As a member of the Abby Cohort, I hope to gain further knowledge and insight into Civics and how to better prepare our students for life beyond the classroom as active citizens in society. In addition, I look forward to forging meaningful and lasting professional collaborative relationships with educators across the state to benefit our student’s learning and experience in our classrooms.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? I believe Civics is at the forefront of education today and we as Civics educators have a rare opportunity to bring content and lessons alive for our students. I personally feel the most pressing Civics issue is understanding your rights, freedoms, and protections as young Americans. I feel this can be brought alive in the classroom through the use of primary documents such as the Bill of Rights, Supreme Court cases, and understanding U.S. civic rights, duties, and responsibilities.
Hi! I am Mackenzie DeLong. I live in Newberg, and teach at McNary High School in Keizer. The 2019/2020 school year will be just my second year teaching. I teach an elective Street Law course called Youth & Law (mixed grades, 9-12). What I love most about my job is learning alongside students. I love it when they dig deep, think hard, and share where they land on complex things. A lot of days I say, “Huh, I never thought of that!”…and it’s true!
Who was your favorite teacher? One of the many teachers who had a great impact on me was Ken Yarnell, government teacher at Aloha High School. Mr. Yarnell is a great listener and he made you feel like your opinion was valid and worth expressing. He is an incredibly kind person, and I don’t think I ever saw him lose his patience with anyone (and I’m sure some of his students tested that!) He also always encouraged us to be solutions-focused, and I have never forgotten his frequent reminders that it is easy to find fault and criticize, and sometimes harder but much more worthy of our time to look for solutions.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? The civics issue that I find most pressing for students today is the need for more responsible civic discussion; discussion of issues that is civil, well-supported and empathetic. I think that the ability to have conversations like that is not innate, but a skill that needs to be taught, and especially today because it is not always being modeled well by adults from either side of the aisle in the public sphere.
My name is Alex Diaz Rios. I am from Hillsboro, and I teach middle school humanities at Lent K-8 in Portland Public Schools. This will be my 2nd year teaching – last year I taught at Westview High and CREATE Alternative school.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite high school teacher was Mr. Beckly; aside from allowing us to choose our grades in his class, he was the first teacher to challenge me and pass on his love for politics.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? I love being able to teach students about the things that affect their lives and giving them the tools to think critically. I’m excited to build a community in the Abby cohort, share resources, and work on my craft.
I live in Central Point, Oregon and teach US History, American Government, and Economics at Eagle Point High School, where I also graduated from high school in 2008. The 2019-20 school year will be my third year teaching. My favorite part of my job is that I get to save lives. Every time I have a positive interaction with a student, that interaction may be a very small part of my day, but it may also be the best part of the student’s day, the only part of their day that makes them feel worthy and loved. Recently, a colleague of mine received a hand-written letter from a graduating senior. In the letter, the student told a story of holding a gun to his own head his sophomore year, ready to end it all. Before pulling the trigger, he paused and remembered that she would miss him if he were gone. So he lowered the gun, and decided to live. Teachers make profound impacts on students every day. And sometimes we may not know it, but we get to save lives.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? First, I hope to have experiences in new places (like the Oregon Supreme Court!) that I can bring back to my classroom and show to my students. Nothing brings a boring lesson to life more quickly than showing students a picture of their teacher in the place or doing the thing they are learning about. Second, I hope to meet new resourceful educators. Google and TPT are great resources, but there’s no better source for advice, ideas, and support than real people!
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? The most pressing civics issues that my students are facing right now are issues concerning human rights. More specifically, trans rights and LGBTQ+. My transgender and gay students not only face bullying from their peers, but discrimination at school and from institutions as they head into adulthood. My transgender and non-binary students were told they could not dress the way they wanted for prom this year. Our GSA (an approved school-sanctioned club) was told they were not allowed to promote their club on campus. One English teacher on campus refuses to use students’ preferred pronouns and does not allow them to write about any topics “relating to gender or sexuality”. A transgender student enlisted to enter the military after graduation before the transgender ban went into effect, and now she faces a future of uncertainty and fear. My gay students may be allowed to marry, but two of them were legally fired from their jobs for their sexual orientation in the last six months alone. Recent polls indicate that over 50% of people currently aged 15-24 identify as something other than cisgender and straight. If more than half of our next generation’s population faces legal daily harassment and discrimination, I would certainly categorize this as one of our most pressing issues.
I am Cambria Floren and I live in the wonderful small town of Ashland, Oregon. I am blessed to be teaching all social sciences classes to 12th graders at the moment, including American Government and Economics, as I am a Humanities teacher of 6 years at Ashland High School. I am excited to be spearheading a new program this fall based of CLP’s Project Citizen curriculum which we are calling “Community Action Projects” (CAPs for short) wherein students will try to effect meaningful change in their communities through local governmental policy advocacy. What I love most about my job is getting to interact with students. My students inspire me everyday and it creates a feedback loop that makes us both want to show up each day. I love young people. I see their genuine caring for the world and their desire to use their agency for good spurs my motivation to create meaningful curriculum to help them reach their full capacity. Beyond that, I love explaining the intricacies of complex subjects, like the criminal justice system, in ways that empower students to engage effectively with the world around them. Plus I get to teach Mock Trial!
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? I will benefit immensely from being part of this cohort, and I am thrilled to be part of the making of it. What I would truly like is to help create a community of engaged teacher-leaders who, by strengthening the bonds between our schools and creating lasting, empowering civics curriculum, fosters a new generation of engaged student-activists ready to tackle the greatest challenges facing our state, country, and world. A lofty — yet worthy– goal!
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? One of those challenges is the on-going Climate Crisis and our inability to confront in any meaningful way the changes that need to happen at the national level. I believe we need young, engaged, proactive social justice advocates, not apathetic media-fed masses, to usher in the social and infrastructural changes needed to convert to a green-energy economy, and to help create an inclusive, multicultural democracy movement in this country. And I am ready to start now.
I live in Sisters and teach at Sisters High School. I have been teaching English and Social Studies for the past 13 years. Currently, I teach tenth-grade U.S. History, A.P. U.S. History, A.P. Government, and Film. The thing I love most about my job is definitely the kids. Apart from that, I love the fact that I have a lot of freedom to add courses, design curriculum, and try new things.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? The chance to collaborate with other teachers from across the state is a great opportunity, especially given that there is only one other Social Studies teacher at Sisters High School. I really enjoy working in a small district, though it does have some limitations. That is one of the reasons that I’m so looking forward to being part of this cohort.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? I think the most pressing civics issue for my students is learning how to engage in informed civil discourse. Increasingly, students reflect more polarized viewpoints and struggle to see things from multiple perspectives. I am working to institute a new course — Ask Big Questions — that will focus on civil discourse with a community involvement component. I’m not exactly sure how that will shape up, but I’m hoping that my time in the CLP cohort will help me start figuring out just what I want to do.
My name is Kevin Haan, and I teach social studies at Bandon High School in Bandon, Oregon. I’ve been teaching for about 8 years, primarily government, economics, personal finance, psychology, and leadership. Most of my students are seniors, and what I love most about my job is working with students and getting them to think critically about issues.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? What I hope to gain from the cohort is new activities and lesson ideas that are engaging. I tend to lecture too much, and want to find new ways to get students more engaged and motivated to learn.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? My students are interested in a variety of issues: government size, the tension between government size and liberty, the environment, immigration, gun rights and abortion.
Hello, my name is Quin Haldane. I live and work in the Rogue Valley, where I have been teaching at Armadillo Technical Institute in Phoenix, OR, for the past three years. At ATI, I teach a multitude of different classes including World Studies, Government, Marketing, Intro to Business, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Personal Finance, and Health and PE. I have been teaching as a full time educator for the past five years and worked as a substitute teacher for two years prior. I started a career in teaching after running my own construction company for more than ten years. I found that I have always been a teacher, and have trained a lot of people in the trades. I have always valued the teachers who have shared their knowledge and helped others be successful, and I want to play my part in educating people to understand the world we live in and be a positive force in shaping the future.
Who was your favorite teacher? As a high school student I was extremely lucky to grow up in Ashland, Oregon, and have a plethora of fantastic teachers. I have to say that Mark Ahalt was my favorite teacher because of his ability to connect everything he taught (Business and Marketing) to the real world.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? The current political climate in America has become toxic, and is turning a lot of young people away from participating. I am worried that schools have watered down civics education and that students are not being engaged in the political process, which is allowing for an erosion of civil liberties.
I live in Portland with my husband, and I teach and coach at Cleveland High School. This coming school year will be my 9th year of teaching, and I will be teaching Government/Economics (10th Grade) and IB History of the Americas (11th Grade). Building relationships with my students and helping them improve throughout the school year is the most rewarding aspect of my job.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite teacher was Ms. Pridmore-Brown, my 12th grade Humanities teacher. Her passion for teaching was so evident to her students, it encouraged us want to be engaged and learn. I hope that this same enthusiasm is evident in my teaching.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? I am excited to work with like-minded teachers to help better hone our craft and work on creating resources that will help engage our students with issues that matter.
I live in NE Portland with my husband, Brodie, and our two loving children, Lazarus and Rosalie. I have lived in Portland off and on since 1998, and have taught at Sunset High School in Beaverton for four years. It will be my 10th year of teaching this upcoming school year. I teach high school Language Arts for all grades, but mostly 10th and 11th, and my AVID cohort will be 9th grade. What I love most about teaching is helping give students a voice to share their ideas, and support them in gaining more self-confidence to go out into the world to be influential and positive community members.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite teachers have been ones with a passion for their subject area. I had an incredible science teacher in Biology in high school. He loved birds, and we would often walk around in neighborhoods and parks observing birds. He even took us to Malheur Refuge and the beach to observe wildlife. I still love birds to this day. I also appreciated Mr. Alves, my high school history and philosophy teacher. He truly pushed students to question and seek information, and taught with humor.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? There are so many pressing issues for students to learn about and get involved in. The ones I’m hoping to brainstorm around and find supportive materials for are: voting rights and re-districting, while looking at census issue and why it’s so critical to have it be accurate in distribution of money; the #MeToo Movement and women’s reproductive rights are also important to my students, along with laws that are changing around the country state by state; and power, in general. The use of power to control information and certain narratives in a government/democracy is compelling to me. I’d also like to learn how to bring in more performing arts to support learning.
My name is Michelle Johnson and I live in Scappoose with my sons. One just graduated from high school, and the other will be a college junior this fall. I have taught 8th grade for 24 years at St. Helens Middle School in St. Helens. I taught language arts for 22 years. The last two years I have been teaching humanities, covering the time between the colonies and the Civil War. My favorite part of teaching is interacting with my students. I love getting to know them and helping them through this part of their lives.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite teacher in junior high was Mr. Carlson. He treated us like we were much older. He was funny and demanded a lot out of us. I learned a lot.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? I have enjoyed teaching new content, but I have so much to learn. This will be my third year teaching humanities, and I hope to learn a lot, gather new resources, and meet other teachers who I can stay in touch with. I am excited about being in the Abby Cohort.
My name is Scott Jones. I live in Gresham, Oregon, with my wife Tabitha and son Owen. I have been teaching the past 3 years at Baker Web Academy where I teach Middle School Civics and High School Economics. I have been teaching for 5 years, and have been coaching high school track for almost two decades. I love teaching Civics and Economics. I think both play a vital role for the future of young people. What I love most about my job is that I get to work with students every day, teaching them about our country, and the history of the United States. I like to learn from my students and how they think and interpret things. I enjoy the conversations that take place and allowing them to analyze, comprehend, and really evaluate their opinions and thoughts on all of the different topics that we learn about.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite teacher in middle school was Stephen Corkett. He was from Wales and taught us so much about history; specifically, he was a war historian and had many different dioramas that he would bring in and share with us. It was fun to see how wars played out, who or what made one side win. My favorite high school teacher was Mrs. Sheri Flood. She truly cared about her students, wanted us to learn, and engaged us from the first day of school until the last.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? I think the most pressing civics issue for our students right now, and most likely in the next decade, is how to continue to be invested in government, voting, and both local and national activism to make the United States a vibrant, safe, and free place to live. As we continue to see freedoms attacked, from different groups, our students need to know what their rights are, why they are important, and why protecting them is important.
Hi, my name is Peggy Karotko. I have lived in Eugene for 37 years, and have been teaching since 1987. The last 15 years I’ve been at Monroe Middle School in Eugene. Currently, I am teaching 8th grade block, and am the block team leader at Monroe. My passions are Civics and History, and I love teaching – those “aha moments,” while fewer than I would like, keep me coming back. My philosophy is that we are here to teach children how to think, inquire and question, and then communicate that thinking with others. History and Civics are the curriculum I use to teach those skills. Writing, speaking, and listening are the tools I teach for communication.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? My goal is to help kids find their own passion for civics and history, and become the citizens of tomorrow. I hope to gain a greater understanding of how to teach my craft by being part of this cohort. It is really true… you never stop learning, and when you add wonderful and inspiring people to the mix, your own learning becomes so much richer.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? I think apathy is creeping in with the students of today. Getting them involved in the issues affecting their own lives is paramount. That is another reason to teach civics – it gets kids to take off their headphones, close up their video games, and get involved in their world. The specific issues are many, and my hope is to help kids find what they are passionate about and engage in the process of solving their community’s problems, and maybe even their own.
My name is Jenoge Khatter, and I live and teach in Eugene, Oregon. I’ve taught Western Hemisphere, World History, and US History at Theodore Roosevelt Middle School since 2012, and now I’m Social Studies TOSA for Eugene School District 4J. My career as a teacher started at Roosevelt in 2007 when I was a student teacher. The thing I like most about teaching is the flavor of humor that students add to social problems that, on their face, are difficult and profound.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite high school teacher was Corvallis 509J’s Alan Taylor, who was the first person to teach me about intersectionality.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? The most pressing civics issue facing my students is the ability to identify the policy agendas of the many sides of any political/ controversial issue, the facts beings used to justify those agendas, and the validity (or lack thereof) of said facts.
I live in Eugene, Oregon, where I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years. I’ve spent the last 10 years in a blended 7th and 8th grade class at Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School in Eugene. Currently, I teach Language Arts, Social Studies, Music, and a variety of electives, everything from Groundskeeping to Mountain Biking. The thing I love most about my job is the relationship I’m able to build with my students over two years in a small blended classroom. I also love the flexibility to be able to teach electives I love, and dig deeply into modern issues with a very project-based curriculum. Over the last several years, my social studies curriculum has become increasingly focused on Civics–both how government works, and how we can do something about it. The projects my students engage in culminate in civic action to achieve positive change locally and globally.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite high school teacher was my freshman Honors English teacher, Leila Inouye, at Aiea High School. She encouraged my passion for reading long after my freshman year, passing along current novels that she was into that weren’t the boring junk we had to read for class.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? The issues my students are most concerned about right now are Climate Change and Homelessness.
Hello! My name is Meghan O’Dell-Ream. I currently live in Clackamas county, but I have lived all over the Portland Metro area from Hillsboro to NE Portland. I’ve been teaching Social Studies for 15 years. I spent 12 years at the high school level and have taught for the past three years at the middle level. I am definitely a life-long teacher. I am loving my new challenge of teaching at Christ the King Parish School, a K-8 school where I am the sole Social Studies teacher for grades 6-8. The advantage is having three years to mold my students and build each year off of the skills. The clear disadvantage is that I am an island. I am looking to partner with fellow teachers who would like to create assessments and units that merge current events with specific curriculum from the middle level standards. I find my favorite moments of teaching are when students make connections to their lives.
Who was your favorite teacher? The teacher who stands out the most in my memory is Ms. Milton, my sophomore English teacher. I loved her energy and excitement for the class, especially how she incorporated it into class discussions. I can still see her handing out stickers for using vocabulary words in class, or running mini-simulations prior to a new novel study. She was the only teacher who had us sit in a circle, and she sat in a student’s desk with us! Though the class was large, the discussions always felt personal and safe. I hope I can channel some of her positive energy in my classroom.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? Ultimately, I believe my greatest challenge in teaching civics is teaching students to listen in discussions, and to truly hear their classmates’ point of view. My students are learning how to identify facts and evidence because they are bogged down by inaccurate information, or opinions masked as fact. Therefore, I hope to learn new protocols to assist my students in having the difficult and challenging conversations based in fact, especially with the primaries coming up.
My name is Cassie Owen and I live in Corvallis Oregon where I teach 8th grade Social Studies at Linus Pauling Middle School. I also teach 8th grade AVID as an elective. I have been teaching for 2 years. I did my student teaching in Corvallis at Crescent Valley High School, teaching AP US History and Honors Literature. The best thing about my job is that I get to work WITH people, not just FOR them. I’ve worked at other jobs where I sat behind a desk most of the day, and I hated it. I love how I get to explore and learn as a teacher. I have always loved school and I always wondered how I could go to school forever and get paid to do it.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite high school teacher was my theater arts teacher, Todd Hermanson. He was a great teacher and director. He was the first to give me leadership opportunities through teaching, and as a TA in his class we got to teach the students games and lead class for their warm ups. That was the first time I got a feel for teaching, and he helped me come out of my shell.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? I hope that this institute will help me be a better teacher to my students, particularly in the area of government. I have a lot of experience with history, but civics and government are still rather new to me, but I love it. The better prepared I am to teach these subjects, the more fun we can have.
I teach the AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP Human Geography and Constitutional Law classes at Sprague High School in Salem, Oregon. I have taught for seven years at Sprague, and have taught a variety of social studies and business courses to freshman through seniors.
Who was your favorite teacher? I decided to go into teaching my sophomore year of high school after taking Gerrit Koepping’s class at Lake Oswego High School. Until then history and civics were not favorite subjects, but Mr. Koepping brought the content to life and helped show the importance of being an engaged and active citizen.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? I have immersed myself in professional development opportunities across the country to better my practice. Being a role model to kids, and showing the importance of lifetime learning while assisting kids figure out what makes them feel fulfilled, is my favorite part of my job. Being part of the Abby Cohort, I hope to connect with educators across the state, help support them be the best inspiration of kids in the classroom they can be, and continue to learn from other amazing teachers and what opportunities they open for their students to bring to Salem-Keizer School District students.
My name is Amy Sabbadini and I currently teach IB world religions and IB prep history at Bend High School. I have lived in Bend since 2005, though I am originally from California. I have taught more courses in the past 17 years than I can count, mostly in Language Arts and Social Studies, grades 8-12. I have also led quite a bit of teacher education and am currently teaching in the OSU Cascades Masters in Education program.
Who was your favorite teacher? My favorite teacher was Mr. Lipetzky, my freshman geography teacher. He was quirky and energetic and loved his content. He didn’t suffer fools, though, and kept people on their toes.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? The most pressing civics issue is intellectual apathy. Citizens are inundated with information but have less knowledge and don’t seem to care about developing understanding in the short term or wisdom in the long term. I do this job to encourage critical thinking and curiosity. Democracy is not a spectator sport!
My name is Courtney Wertz. I live in Lakeview and teach in Paisley, where I’ve been the 7-12 English and Social Studies teacher since 2004. There are many fabulous reasons I love teaching ,but my top reasons are the continuation of learning, being a cheerleader for kids, being a positive influence, and helping kids see goodness and excitement in the world.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? I hope to continue learning from other brilliant teachers in Oregon, while gaining insight into the challenges facing the trailblazers of civil rights for women and others.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? Civil Discourse has gone out the window in politics. We need to be teaching students to how to sort out the constant noise and issues in the news, learn to understand and hear people with different views, and to be respectful of them.
I reside in Salem and teach 20th Century Studies (9th Grade), AP Government (10th Grade), and AVID Elective (10th Grade) at West Salem High School. This will be my 21st year in the classroom. The best part of my job is the daily interaction with students and helping them to understand the world and society in which we live.
What are you looking most forward to with the Abby Cohort? My hope is that this cohort will give me an opportunity to find new resources, materials, and lessons to bring back to the students of my district.
What is a pressing civics issue for your students? Students are concerned about the lack of compromise in politics and the lasting effects it may have on the debt, the environment, social issues, and even freedom of expression.