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District Celebrates Educators of the Year

With no ACE awards program this year, the district has created a new process for celebrating educators, led by the Springfield Education Association, or SEA. SEA accepted nominations in four categories:

  • New Educator (1 to 5 years teaching)
  • Elementary (K-5)
  • Secondary (6-12)
  • Specialists (Special Education, Music, Counselor, Teacher on Special Assignment - TOSA, etc.)

Congratulations to the winners in each category, who were announced at a reception on Monday, May 14!

Kristen Noor New Educator of the Year: Kristen Noor (Guy Lee Elementary)

Kristen started with SPS 4 years ago, working half-time as a kinder teacher at Guy Lee. She’s been working full-time as a kinder teacher at Guy Lee since we went to full-day kindergarten.

Here are some kind words from Kristen’s nominations: “Kristen is one of the most adaptable educators I have met. She makes her classroom work for students with differences rather than trying to make them fit into her systems. Her colleagues report that she is flexible, dependable, and goes above and beyond for her students.”

Sara Blackwell Elementary Educator of the Year: Sarah Blackwell (Two Rivers-Dos Ríos Elementary)

Sara started with the district as a Sped teacher at Douglas Gardens in 1984. She’s been at several schools, including Goshen, Brattain Elementary, and Riverbend, and done a number of things through the years, from classroom teacher to instructional coach. She’s now a Title I teacher at TRDR.

Words from Sara’s nominations: “Sara is wonderful at taking time to actively listen to any student, parent, colleague, or administrator. She puts the needs of students above everything else. Sara Blackwell is the epitome of the respected teacher in Springfield Public Schools.”

Dave Smith Secondary Educator of the Year: Dave Smith (Briggs Middle)

Dave Smith has been a math and science teacher at Briggs since 2002.

Words from Dave’s nominations: "Dave is amazing at engagement, relationship building and motivation with all students. Kids adore him and are motivated to do their best, be their best, and excel in academics and positive character. Dave is a leader at our school and in our community."

Tama Rowan Ed Specialist of the Year: Tama Rowan (Mt. Vernon Elementary)

Tama Rowan has been a music teacher at Mt. Vernon since 2006. Her students have performed at board meetings, OSBA conferences and more.

Words from Tama’s nominators: "Tama is innovative and always willing to be a participant and leader in the events that create our school and community culture of fun and learning. The effort and magic that Tama puts into each grade level’s musical performances leaves everyone in awe and admiration. We are so very lucky to have someone with such passion and drive."


Meet the Nominees

<click here for a brochure with more about our nominees>

New Educator: Jennifer Gonzales (Walterville), Jan Hampton (THS), Sarah Kingery (Briggs), Sarah Knudsen (Mt. Vernon), Karissa McDowell (Douglas Gardens), Kristen Noor (Guy Lee), Phoebe Slocum (THS)

Elementary: Karen Belshaw (Two Rivers-Dos Ríos), Sara Blackwell (Two Rivers-Dos Ríos), Sara Burgin (Riverbend), Audrey Davids (Walterville), Mel Dronzek (Two Rivers-Dos Ríos), Hillary Galloway (Centennial), Lisa Gibson (Yolanda), Bryanna Jones (Yolanda), Debbie Knapp (Two Rivers-Dos Ríos), Debbie Pennicott (Page), Ruth Watkins (Douglas Gardens)

Secondary: Holly Ellingson (Gateways High), David Frost (SHS), Janet Nelson (GHS), Erica Pierson (THS), Doug Piquette (THS), Mike Simons (THS), Dave Smith (Briggs), Elly Steinbaugh (Briggs), Jared Taylor (THS), Leslie Watson (SHS)

Specialist: Lisa Dillon (SHS), Melaney Grenz (Douglas Gardens), Joanna Guhit (Yolanda), Mark Huisenga (THS), Chris Jesser (THS), Tama Rowan (Mt. Vernon), Tim Vian (THS), Nancy Williams (Centennial)

Special thanks to Oregon Community Credit Union, who will be providing each of the winners with a $250 check for their school, to the Springfield High Graphic Design Department for the awards for the winners, and to VALIC Financial Advisors for providing truffles for the nominees.