Lake Oswego Rotary SASEE awards honor educational excellence
Like so much else during the pandemic, the Rotary Club of Lake Oswego's Service Above Self: Education Excellence award ceremony looked a bit different this year.
The SASEE awards — which are presented to 10 students, educators and citizens who support education in Lake Oswego — were done on video this year, with Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Lora de la Cruz delivering a keynote address and past recipients presenting the awards. This year, a special "honorary student SASEE award" was also presented to the Lake Oswego High School Green Team that focuses on sustainability.
The student recipients this year were Jada Badiyan, Serena Lum, Ella Fuentes and Jiexi Qiao. Educator awards were presented to Karen Hoppes, Kathy Lloyd and Breck Foster, while the citizen awards went to Dorothy Atwood, Willie Poinsette and Sara Pocklington.
SASEE award winners are given what is called a "pay-it-forward" prize; for students and educators, this comes in the form of $1,000 which they can donate to the charity, school or other nonprofit of their choice. Citizens, meanwhile, have a $3,000 Rotary scholarship presented in their name to a graduating high school senior to pay for college expenses.
SASEE awards have been presented for the past five years as "part of the Rotary Club's ongoing commitment to supporting education in the community," according to a press release. The awards video is available to watch online at rotarysasee.org.
Bios of each winner, provided by the Rotary, are as follows:
Jada Badiyan: Jada Badiyan, who lives in Lake Oswego, and has been a student for the past four years at Stanford Online High School, a private independent school located at Stanford University. She spent several years training as a professional ballerina at the Sultanov Russian Ballet Company, but when the pandemic hit, she shifted her focus to creating a monthly series of online talks for young people. Jada produces this series, "Inspiring Talks for Aspiring Youth," which she hosts in real time, then posts to YouTube.
Jada initiated the speaker series because she saw a need among her peers for inspiration and guidance through the unique challenges of adolescence. She is deeply concerned about the increasing rates of depression and suicide in young people, and thought this could help. Her primary audience is classmates at her high school, but the series is open to all. From the start, it has been Jada's organizational, communication, and management skills that have created and sustained the series.
She contacts the speakers, coordinates and schedules the talks, promotes the talks online, records and edits the videos, and posts them on her YouTube channel. The series has no budget and there is no money to be made in this. It is Jada's labor of love for her broader community. In her acceptance speech she said, "Living my life through service is very important to me and receiving this award has shown me how much potential there is to expand these efforts."
Serena Lum: SASEE recipient Serena Lum has put her communication skills to work on behalf of the students at Lake Oswego High School. She has been both a staff member and the editor of Lake Views, the student newspaper. Separately, after watching and participating in the Black Lives Matter protests last spring, she also relaunched a 54 page E-Magazine called "Color." She knew that "Color" had existed in the past and decided to revive it to give students of color a means to tell their stories and share their experiences. She reached out to adult editors to help with the publication and wrote deeply personal essays about her own experiences in Lake Oswego. To quote one of her nominators, "if it were not for Serena's leadership, I don't think the project would have gotten off the ground."
Serena also founded the group, "Students for Anti-Racist Curriculum," as a means of bringing more information about diversity to classes at school. Through this dedication to equity, as well as her work with both "Color" and the school newspaper, she advocates on events that affect her peers, and uses her journalism to fight for voices that are often underserved. Serena has created a legacy that will continue after she graduates.
Ella Fuentes and Jiexi Qiao: Ella Fuentes and Jiexi Qiao cofounded a nonprofit business in 2019 at the end of their freshman year at Lake Oswego High School. Their business is called "I Love Lake Oswego Clothing Closet." They started the business to serve students from low-income families. They knew that students need appropriate clothes for school in order to feel confident and to be able to focus on learning. They also knew that good clothing is expensive. While their initial focus was on students, the clothing closet has now expanded to serve anyone in need and, in doing so, it now helps more than 500 people on an ongoing basis.
As you might expect, the I Love Lake Oswego Clothing Closet has encountered many unexpected challenges due to the pandemic. Over the course of the past year, Ella and Jiexi have figured out ways to continue to work with donors and serve their pa-trons while always assuring their safety.
When it became clear that their business was going to be a success, Ella and Jiexi created a junior board of directors to help to assure continuity after the founders leave for college. At that time, the junior board members will transition into managing the business. Each junior high board member has been assigned a high school student who will teach them how to run the clothing closet. This process has empowered the high school board members to be mentors and a good example to the next generation of management.
What started as a simple idea has resulted in an important community service in Lake Oswego, and it's the reason that Ella Fuentes and Jiexi Qiao are recipients of the 2021 SASEE Student Award.
Karen Hoppes: For 31 years, Dr. Karen Hoppes has been teaching AP United States History at Lakeridge High School. The class is a two-year dual enrollment course with Portland State University, where students can gain valuable college credit for the university-level projects, discussions, and research-papers they complete.
Each year, students are required to complete a twenty-page research paper about a United States history topic of their choice. This is quality, professional work done by each student, attaining university-level grades and recognition. At the end of the year, these papers are submitted to the Portland State University Young Historians Conference. Each year several Lakeridge High School students have had their papers selected as finalists and they've become published authors.
Last June, at the end of the 2020 school year, the juniors in AP U.S. History were aware of Dr. Hoppes's impending retirement but were assured that the class would continue into their senior year, with the same opportunity of obtaining college credit. When the new school year began in September, the teacher who was to take over the class encountered difficulty and left the faculty. When Dr. Hoppes became aware of this, she postponed her retirement to finish off this last year of AP U.S. History for the Class of 2021 seniors. In doing so, she fulfilled their PSU credit and completed their US History course.
In her acceptance of this award, Dr. Hoppes said, "I learned early in my career that if you want to teach someone anything, you have to first truly care about them a great deal. Caring leads to building community, through humor, through sincerity, through personal concern for students. Educational excellence is found in classroom communities where everyone in the room puts service above self."
Kathy Lloyd: Kathy Lloyd is an ACCESS teacher at Lake Grove Elementary School. ACCESS is a support system for students with high functioning autism. She is also a major supporter of the Oregon Battle of the Books, a statewide competition that helps to engender a love of reading and an ability to work as a team. For five months out of each school year she spends time after school and during lunch hours leading team-building sessions and setting up practice battles among teams. In a remarkable com-bination of both of these disciplines, she's worked to make the Battle of the Books accessible to all students by having her ACCESS students become members on different teams. In doing all of this, she's created a positive learning environment that has impacted the ACCESS students and the entire school population.
Additionally, Kathy is also a tireless campaigner for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Lake Oswego School District and beyond. She has been a member of the District Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Committee since its inception. In her work with the committee, she advocates for the rights of all students, reminding us to include the differently-abled, neuro-atypical, and LGBTQ community. She is also on the board of LO for Love and a facilitator for Respond to Racism. At a time like this, when Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is at the forefront of our district's agenda, Kathy supports and advocates for students, parents and staff members.
Breck Foster: Breck Foster is a Social Studies teacher at Lake Oswego High School. She's also a passionate advocate for sustainability. It's that passion that has led her to be an out-standing educator, student mentor, and community leader. For example, she coordinated interested staff and students in providing input to the District Superintendent and the Lake Oswego School Board, which culminated in the approval of Sustainability as one of the four goals in the School District Strategic Plan.
Additionally, Breck is currently leading a School Food Waste Curriculum Pilot Program through a grant she applied for outside of her school-related duties. In addition to this endeavor, Breck has reinvigorated the Lake Oswego High School Green Team and acts as its faculty advisor. The Green Team provides a place for students interested in sustainability to congregate, learn, organize, and advocate outside of the traditional classroom. Through the Green Team, students are able to get involved in a variety of projects, such as setting up composting stations in the cafeteria and other recycling events. Through this work, Lake Oswego High has obtained Oregon Green School status.
Breck inspires her students, her colleagues, and community members to work together toward a more sustainable future. Speaking of her SASEE, Breck has said, "This award is a tribute to my colleagues, students and family, who share my belief that taking small actions locally can foster a more equitable and sustainable community and world."
Sara Pocklington: Sara Pocklington currently serves as chair of the Lake Oswego School Board. Time and again, she has demonstrated her commitment to the educational needs of the students and families in Lake Oswego. One of Sara's strengths is her ability to listen and truly hear the input and opinions of every stakeholder in the district. She uses that input to inform her decisions on the Board.
Sara is an advocate for all students —with particular attention to students who experience disabilities. It has long been her opinion that Lake Oswego cannot be the best school district in the state, with the best educational outcomes, if that is not true for each and every student, especially those who are most marginalized. She sees student learning differences as a variability rather than a disability.
Sara also led the Board in the work of crafting the district's current Strategic Plan, a document that delineates the priorities of the district.
Importantly, during this past year, Sara demonstrated an ongoing commitment to supporting the entire district staff in adapting teaching and learning processes as the pandemic forced change after change to our normal systems.
Dorothy Atwood: In 2013, Dorothy Atwood was the co-founder of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network. As the co-chair of the organization's School and Education Action Team, her goal is helping to implement sustainability practices in the schools and curriculum. One key to her success has been her ability to merge advocacy with action. She doesn't just talk about the importance of sustainability, she makes change happen, in the school district and in the community.
When the pandemic forced schools to move learning out of the classroom, she found ways to adapt her message of action to a virtual format. As an indication of her commitment to community service, Dorothy also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Hunger Fighters Food Pantry. As an indication of her commitment to community service, the city of Lake Oswego recognized her as an Unsung Hero in 2019.
Willie Poinsette: Willie Poinsette co-founded Respond to Racism to educate and empower Lake Oswego residents and institutions with the tools to combat racism in all its forms. Additionally, she serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Black Lives Matter Committee for the School District.
As a retired Portland Public School principal, she uses her experience and knowledge to mentor and support students, parents, and staff in fighting racism in our community. She received the 2019 "Leader of the Year" Award from the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce. As Christine Thomas said in her nomination, "Willie Poinsette has done more for the citizens of Lake Oswego and Oregon than can be measured. She exemplifies all that the SASEE Award stands for."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.