A teacher from Beaverton, one from Parkrose and two from Portland are vying for a big prize from OnPoint Community Credit Union, which will pay the mortgages for two lucky educators for a year and donate $2,500 to the winner's schools.
OnPoint awards the Educator of the Year honor to one K-8 teacher and one high school teacher. Another six teachers have been included in the yearly "Circle of Excellence" and four school programs received $2,000 Community Builder awards. All told, OnPoint will award as much as $100,000 to teachers and schools this year.
Finalists for the Educator of the Year elementary prize are Carol Biskupic Knight, a fourth grade teacher at Sato Elementary School in the Beaverton School District and Alison Herron, who teaches kindergarten at Portland's Marysville Elementary School.
Kerryn Henderson, who teaches AP Biology and a college preparation course called AVID at Parkrose High School and Matt Sten, who teaches modern world history, government and economics at Cleveland High School in Portland, are finalists for the high school award.
The two finalists who don't get the top prize will each receive $5,000 for themselves and $1,500 for their schools.
The contest, called the 2020 Prize for Excellence in Education Educator of the Year, runs from Feb. 18 to May 27, when the winners will be revealed.
"The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the vital role teachers play in the daily lives of children," Rob Stuart, president and CEO of OnPoint said in a statement.
"The nomination process inspires OnPoint every year, but this year was particularly moving as we heard stories of teachers distributing meal boxes to students, offering regular remote story times and simply being a support system for families as they navigate COVID-19," he added.
The Circle of Excellence teachers are: Alfonso Garcia Arriola, a seventh and eighth grade science teacher at ACCESS Academy, Portland; Jesse Gardner, who teaches career and college exploration and hip-hop literature at Portland's Madison High School; Janelle Jackson, in alternative education, Dayton High School; Hillary Marshall, library media specialist, Washougal High School; Pauline Pham, who teaches special education and English at Springfield High School and Erika Pollock, a first grade teacher at Lake Grove Elementary in the Lake Oswego School District.
The Circle educators will each receive a $1,500 cash prize and $1,000 donation to their school.
Four schools received the $2,000 Community Builder Awards.
Atkinson Elementary School in Portland was honored for its gardening and cultural cooking project, which will provide K-5 classes with two garden work parties each year in the school's community garden.
Gresham's Clear Creek Middle School and it's Tomorrow Bus was selected for a Community Builder. The Tomorrow Bus is a mobile STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) classroom that encourages K-8 students to create, collaborate, and innovate using hands-on learning materials.
Sandy High School's Pioneer Digital Media Broadcasting program won for its live multi-camera broadcast that covers sports, news and events from the Sandy High campus.
Sifton Elementary's After School Club, in Vancouver's Evergreen School District, was honored. It is a free program for families designed to provide extra academic support and extracurricular activities.
In addition, Grout Elementary, in southeast Portland, was selected by community votes for an award. It will get $5,000 for a grounds improvement project, which will repair the Grout Elementary track and field.
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