Lake Oswego Rotary Club names 15 SASEE Award finalists
New program will honor excellence in education and service above self at a Jan. 25 tribute dinner at Marylhurst University
The Lake Oswego Rotary Club has announced the Top 5 finalists in each of three categories for the inaugural Service Above Self: Educational Excellence Awards.
Rotarians have been fine-tuning the SASEE (pronounced "sassy") award program for almost a year, with plans to recognize the first honorees at a tribute dinner Jan. 25 at Marylhurst University. The theme of the night is "Amazing People, Amazing Stories."
Eric Allenbaugh, who co-chaired the SASEE Steering Committee with fellow Rotarian Malcolm Mathes, says the nine-person Selection Committee chose finalists who are so amazing that "they're all winners."
"The awards are based on service above self, and in each of the three categories, these individuals demonstrate the spirit of service above self," Allenbaugh says. "Kind of like giving more to life than they take."
The award categories are: students; teachers, administrators and support staff; and individual citizens and volunteers. The 15 finalists were chosen from more than 50 nominations — 24 citizens/volunteers, 16 teachers/administrators/support staff and 10 students. The finalists come from both public and private schools, and represent education levels from elementary school to college.
At least one finalist in each category — and possibly more, depending on the success of fundraising efforts — will receive a financial award at the tribute dinner. For teachers/administrators/support staff honorees, that award will be $1,000 to apply toward the winner's school or service activities; the student winner will receive $500 to apply toward their school or service activity; and an individual citizen/volunteer who supports education will be honored with $2,000 to support student scholarships in their name.
"There are some terrific candidates," says Paul Graham, who co-chaired the Selection Committee with his wife, Teri, "and so, if we had the means to do a financial award in more categories, we would love to do that."
The 15 finalists are:
• Mackenzie Coder, a Lakeridge High School senior. Coder is a student board member for the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation, which raises funds to support teachers' salaries; a member of the Associated Student Body, Lakeridge's student leadership group; and part of the Our Lady of the Lake Youth Group, which among other things serves organizations that aid homeless people.
"I think all the people who are nominated definitely deserve it," Coder says. "I think it's cool to see all the people in the community who are giving back."
• Kate Fayloga, a Lake Oswego High School senior. Fayloga spent two years creating a program at Tryon Creek State Natural Area called "Discovering the Park through Science." She kicked off the interactive Earth-science project in July 2015, and her efforts earned her a Girl Scout Gold Award.
Fayloga says she is honored, and "Knowing that my project has been able to draw more teenagers to volunteer at Tryon Creek, and educate visitors about the park at the same time is pretty exciting."
• Melanie Gabriel Hastings, an Oak Creek Elementary School fourth-grader. Gabriel Hastings donated money she earned through Girl Scout cookie sales to help the garden at her school thrive.
• Michael Murray, a Lake Oswego High School freshman. Murray founded a nonprofit, Hunger Fighters Oregon, which supports people who need emergency food boxes. He and his board plan to open a food pantry at Lakeridge Junior High in late January or early February.
"I'm just honored to be considered alongside so many other great individuals from the community who have done great work as well," Murray says. "It was a great surprise."
• Karthik Sreedhar, a Lakeridge High School sophomore. Sreedhar established a WaterAfrica Club at Lakeridge High School. WaterAfrica raises funds in support of World Vision, which works to provide clean water to rural villages in Zambia.
"It's really almost a humbling experience to help these people who need something to live," Sreedhar says.
• Cole Chatterton, who teaches at seven universities, including Portland Community College, where he heads up the business department, and Marylhurst. One of the classes Chatterton offers is Service Learning Projects, for which students raise funds and provide community service to a nonprofit organization. Chatterton's students have helped groups that include Oregon Food Bank, Deaf Dogs Association of Oregon and Foster Care System of Oregon. "I'm actually really humbled that I'm being recognized for this, because the students are the ones that are being mobilized for all this effort in the community," he says.
• Denise Gonzalez, vice principal of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School, a K-8 private school in Lake Oswego. Gonzalez has organized a student council that performs service projects, including a refugee project and food drive, which have helped hundreds of people.
"I am very passionate about helping (everyone), and to receive recognition from talented and hardworking colleagues made it even more special," Gonzalez says.
• Nancy Longman, a Pathways Program teacher at Lake Oswego High School. Longman developed, coordinates and instructs the vocational on-campus job sites for students with intellectual disabilities, such as the Spirit Store, the Laker Garden and Joe's Boathouse. Longman says the Pathways "program wouldn't be where it is today" without the other Pathways teachers, educational assistants, administrators and the school district's special services.
• Laura Paxson Kluthe, a social studies teacher at LOHS. She has been active in the teachers union for eight years, serving for three years as president and this year as past-president. "Most teachers I know perform service above self on a regular basis without recognition or fanfare," Paxson Kluthe says. "I am often humbled to be in the company of so many committed teachers."
• Jennifer Schiele, Lakeridge High School principal. Schiele initiated a plan to build excellence in academic and social life.
"I have strived to create a culture that embraces everyone's strengths and keeps responsibility for excellence evenly distributed across the entire Pacer family," she says.
• Cay Borduin, the costume designer for Lakeridge High theater department. For the past six years, she has designed, sewed and repurposed costumes for the Pacers' two annual plays, serving as the lead designer since 2013. She says she loves what she does and that the honor was not expected. "I was flabbergasted," says Borduin, whose two children graduated from Lakeridge High. She adds that she is excited that the new awards will result in scholarships for children.
• Linda Brown, who has volunteered for more than 30 years in education. Her service includes time spent on the Lake Oswego School Board, the Clackamas Education Service District Board of Directors, the Oregon School Boards Association Board of Directors, the State Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, National School Boards Association's Pre-K Advisory Committee and Federal Relations Network.
"I think my time spent with kids either as a classroom volunteer, listening to them when judging various competitions or interviewing kids for scholarships has been the most inspiring," Brown says.
• Deanne Knipple and Anja Bump, Oak Creek Parent Teacher Association's Science Enrichment Committee co-chairwomen. Knipple and Bump spearheaded a maker-space project at Oak Creek this fall that is intended to offer opportunities for children to explore science, technology, engineering, art and math. It features a 3-D printer, a craft table, tables for engineering projects, a Lego wall and a table for reverse engineering.
"Children are naturally curious, imaginative, and inventive. I love watching their excitement as they explore and learn," Knipple says.
When she heard about the nomination, Bump says she felt "incredible joy to be recognized by the community we serve."
• Sandra Miller, the founder and artistic director of the Oregon Children's Choir and Youth Chorale. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1994, offers local children, grades 1-12, the opportunity and skills to learn and perform choral music. Miller says she is "overwhelmed" by being nominated.
• Piper Park, who founded Park Academy in 2005. The nonprofit, private school in Lake Oswego offers specialized education for children with dyslexia and other language-learning challenges. Park says these children are getting a "hand up, not a hand out," and that she's delighted to give them the opportunity to grow. She says she is looking forward to the SASEE tribute dinner and meeting the other honorees.
"It's an honor to be recognized," she says.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: SASEE Awards tribute dinner
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25
WHERE: Marylhurst University's Clark Commons, 17600 Pacific Highway, Lake Oswego
COST: $75 per ticket (includes dinner and drinks; raises funds for awards and school scholarships)