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Highland teacher chosen out of nearly 250 nominated Multnomah County educators

PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS - Highland third-grade teacher Amanda Jensen with Gresham-Barlow Superintendent James Hiu (Left) and Multnomah Education Service District Paul Coakley after being announced as Multnomah County Regional Teacher of the Year. Highland Elementary School teacher Amanda Jensen was surprised by an auditorium filled with excited students, fellow teachers, district administrators, school board members, and family on Wednesday, Sept. 14, as the group celebrated the third-grade teacher being named Multnomah Education Service District's 2023 Regional Teacher of the Year.

The gathering shocked the elementary school teacher as students cheered and applauded as Jensen was awarded the recognition by Multnomah Education Service District's Superintendent Paul Coakley. The Multnomah Education Service District is an educational cooperative that provides a wide variety of programs and services on a regional basis to school districts in Multnomah County and beyond.

Although Jensen already knew she had won the regional recognition, the secret assembly celebration blindsided the long-time Gresham-Barlow educator.

"No teacher enters this profession for any sort of recognition, but it is a real honor," Jensen said after the festivities had calmed down. "I want all my colleagues and students to know that this award is also thanks to them. I feel like more teachers should be recognized because there is so much great work being done in our schools."

Along with the recognition, Oregon Lottery representatives presented Jensen with an over-sized check for $1,000. Jensen is also entered into the running for Oregon's 2023 Teacher of the Year, the winner of which will be announced in a few weeks. The Oregon Teacher of the Year will be awarded $10,000, with another $5,000 awarded to their school. PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS - Jensen received strong support from the Highland Elementary School students as she was awarded Regional Teacher of the Year.

"I think the importance and the impact of elementary school teachers is so essential in helping kids develop a positive foundation," said Coakley. "Amanda has been doing such amazing things here and I think she is one of those teachers that kids are really going to remember when they look back at their K-12 experience."

Jensen has been working at Highland for nine years as a teacher and has championed anti-racist, anti-biased and social justice education in her tenure at the Gresham-Barlow School District. About 250 teachers from around Multnomah County were nominated for the Regional Teacher of the Year.

"This is quite a joyful moment for the district and of course for Amanda Jensen, who is one of our rockstars in the district," said James Hiu, Gresham-Barlow Superintendent. "It is great for one of our own to be recognized by the Multnomah County. It Is important to find joy in the work we are doing and celebrate accomplishments, and I think this morning that was accomplished."

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