OnPoint Credit Union pays the mortgages of the two teachers for nine months, schools get $2,500

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO  - Janine Kirstein, the choir director at Gresham High School, is honored as the best high school teacher in Oregon. Both of OnPoint Community Credit Union's Educator of the Year honorees this year hail from East Multnomah County and both will have their mortgages paid for a year.

Lucas Houck, a teacher at Corbett Middle School and Janine Kirstein, the Gresham High School choir director and music teacher won the prestigious honor. Houck won in the kindergarten through eighth grade category and Kirstein in the high school segment.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Lucas Houck, the best K-8 teacher in the state, will take a group of students to Europe this summer to study. The winners get their mortgages paid for one year and $2,500 for their schools. The teachers must come from the counties in Oregon and Washington served by the credit union.

Kirstein has been teaching for 37 years and has directed the award-winning Gresham High choir for 16 years.

She majored in music performance at the University of Oregon. But when she was asked to help out with a middle school choir, that changed the course of her life.

"I fell in love with the kids. I wanted to make a difference in their lives. The feedback one receives from teaching is long lived. The feedback one gets from performing is fleeting," she said in a statement.

Kirstein said she is most proud of "setting a high bar of excellence for every student. It has provided them the opportunity to feel real success in their life and be proud of their accomplishments."

Houck, who has been teaching for nine years, is described as the school's cheerleader.

"The thing that drew me to education, and will keep me teaching for as long as I can, is the fact that every time I walk in the building I'm surrounded by 240 absolutely unique individuals — some of them funny, many of them challenging, all of them creative and clever and curious — that make me want to be the best version of myself, at least for eight hours a day. I can't imagine there's any other job in the world quite like it," Houck said in a statement.

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