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Newer staffer JD Bellum receives CARE Award for work during challenging year

In May, Canby School District opted to give out two Canby Area Recognition of Excellence Awards. The first went to Carus Elementary Principal Sam Thompson, and the second went to Canby High School leadership teacher JD Bellum.

Following Thompson's surprise announcement early in May, Superintendent Trip Goodall and high school administrators popped into Bellum's classroom to bestow him with the award too.

COURTESY PHOTO - Canby High School Principal Greg Dinse hands leadership teacher JD Bellum the CARE Award. Superintendent Trip Goodall is pictured at right.

Both recipients were honored at the May 20 school board meeting.

Bellum was nominated by high school staff for the work he's been doing and adjustments he's made to facilitate distance learning.

"Being the leadership teacher during a time like this — normally you're doing big assemblies and you're trying to create an atmosphere, a culture, that is really positive," Goodall said. "And it takes a lot to get relationships going when you're looking at kids primarily through a Zoom meeting modality. JD has just done a phenomenal job putting together videos and connecting kids and staff."

Formerly an attorney, Bellum joined the field of education last school year. He pointed out that being new to the field may have given him an edge during an admittedly challenging year.

"Everything had to be rethought and, in a way, I've almost got a leg up because I came from being a lawyer," Bellum said. "So, I was figuring out how to be a teacher last year, and then switching to being an online virtual teacher. … It was kind of like, alright, I'll just keep learning something else new."

Typically, every month, Canby Kiwanis and Canby School District honor a district staff member with the CARE award.

Canby Kiwanis established it to provide opportunities to recognize individual teachers, counselors, coaches and other school staff who make a difference in the lives of others and in the community. The prospective recipients must be nominated, and the honoree, or sometimes honorees, are then decided by a CARE committee made up of members from Kiwanis and the community.

As one of May's recipients, Bellum received a plaque thanks to area businesses.

Local sponsors of the CARE Award include Canby Kiwanis, Hot Rod Dreamworks, State Farm Insurance-Matt Olsen, Columbia Bank, DirectLink, The Wild Hare, Backstop Bar & Grill, Rice Time, Gwynn's Coffeehouse, Swan Island Dahlias, Puddin' River Chocolates and Glenmore Farms.

To nominate someone who you believe is deserving of the CARE Award, nomination forms in English and Spanish can be found on the district's website at

Kristen Wohlers
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