Canby school counselor is Peace Educator of the Year
In a year full of trials in education, Canby School District Counselor Kate Bowles Shively is a bright light. The Wholistic Peace Institute took notice and is honoring Shively as its Peace Educator of the Year for 2021.
The WPI, founded and directed by Gary and Nancy Spanovich, made the announcement this week, praising Shively for her "innovation, creativity and steadfast determination to make the learning experience during the pandemic one of the most enriching for her middle school students and the Baker Prairie Middle School community."
"I was initially just surprised to read the email from Nancy Spanovich that I was receiving the honor of being the Peace Educator of the Year," Shively said. "This is one of those unique years where I don't think any educator feels like they are doing enough. It was grounding and astonishing, and I am so appreciative of their recognition not only of my work, but the hard work educators and students have put in across the state of Oregon."
This is a prestigious prize, the WPI noted in its announcement, in that the organization has only offered it to a select group of people who rise well above in terms of their individual positive influence on not only the students they work with but the administrators and the school community, including parents and families.
Shively joins the ranks of previous honorees, including Baker Prairie Principal Jennifer Turner, former first lady of Oregon Sharon Kitzhaber LaCroix, Athey Creek Principal Joel Sebastian and Rabbi Emeritus of Neveh Shalom Congregation Joshua Stampfer.
Shively was born in Missouri and graduated from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri with a degree in psychology. She went on to earn her Master's in School Counseling from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. After that, she moved to Oregon.
Shively has worked in all levels of education, from elementary through post-secondary. She has served at Baker Prairie for the last three years.
Her counseling theory stems from feminist theory, which focuses on strengths. Shively believes all students have strengths, and their success is possible through identifying and encouraging those strengths.
Shively, with the help of teacher Amanda Graber, applied for and received grant funding for the Character Strong curriculum that focuses on social-emotional learning.
"Kate is very deserving of the award," Principal Turner said. "She goes above and beyond to help students find their voice and to create a welcoming environment for all. She is instrumental in our school-wide Character Strong program, which helps to teach students self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making."
Shively also established Peace Month at Baker Prairie, which happens annually.
Despite all this, up until now, Shively said she would not have necessarily categorized herself as a peace advocate.
"As a school counselor, I like to start those conversations that push us forward and find those blind spots where we aren't serving all students well as a school or a system, and then do something about it," Shively said. "Even though it's not always pretty or fun, I also search for those areas where I'm lacking growth so I can better serve all students. Looking at that through the lens of the WPI, I can definitely see where that is advocacy for peace."
Shively said she hopes to start more conversations and to see a community of diverse individuals come together and pursue justice for each other.
"I also hope to give Baker Prairie students a few good middle school memories to carry with them through the rest of their education," Shively said. "Middle school is not the easiest time, but Baker Prairie has an amazing team that really cares about kids and wants each of them to be successful in achieving their dreams."
Shively will be honored in a virtual ceremony May 20, with more details to come. The public is invited.
Baker Prairie has a long history with the institute, which is a non-religious, non-political research, education and peacemaking center in Oregon. The organization's mission is to "stop the killing" by relying on the wisdom of Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
WPI is celebrating its 20th anniversary since founder, author and spiritual guide Gary Spanovich first teamed up with Senator Mark O. Hatfield to map out a vision for peacebuilding through the wisdom of the Nobel Peace laureates.
To find out more, visit wholisticpeaceinstitute.com.
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