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With a new school year under way, St. Helens and Scappoose school districts welcomed many new faces to their respective staff. Read all about the new teachers and staff at your kid’s school.


Editor’s note: Some responses have been edited for spelling, clarification, and abbreviation.

Scappoose High School

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Jeff DelegatoJeff Delegato — Mr. Delegato or Mr. D

Special education teacher

Originally from: Portland

Previous work: Lakeridge High School, Sunset High School, private elementary school principal, high school football, and track and field coach

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

As a special education teacher my goal is to support my students build confidence, and advocate for their education.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy working with my students help them learn and explore new things

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

Meeting new students and staff, building new relationships.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Britany PhillipsBritany Phillips — Mrs. Phillips

Counselor

Orginally from: Hillsboro

Previous work: Liberty High School, South Meadows Middle School, Glencoe High School

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I love supporting students in all aspects of life.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

Getting to know the students, staff and families in the Scappoose community.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Kristen HagenKristen Hagen — Mrs. Hagen

Biology teacher

Originally from: Spokane, Wash.

Previous work: Tigard-Tualatin School District, biology and health adult education, substitute teacher.

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

As the newest member of an already dynamic science team, my hope is to bring a high level of approachability and applicability to the science courses I teach (BIO and Earth science). Not every student who takes Bio is going to go on to a research career, so we need to bring a balanced approach to how Bio affects each student’s life now and in the future, as consumers, voters, and world citizens, while also offering opportunities for students to explore science-related careers and engagement in more analytical scientific pursuits.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I love teaching high school students. Their energy is boundless about things they care about, they are willing to engage in varied ways of seeing the world, and honestly, to be a part of supporting them in what they want to do with their lives. What an honor.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Zachary OlsonZachary Olson — Mr. Olson

Drama teacher

Originally from: Seattle, Wash.

Previous work: Northwest Children’s Theater, Willowbrook Arts Camp, Westside High School, and Newberg High School

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I want to give students the opportunity to experience as much and as many kinds of theatre culture as they desire. I hope that we can put together trips to see theatre together near and far. Some of my greatest memories from high school were going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a theatre trip to New York City. I would like to make something like that happen for Scappoose students.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

Scappoose High School has an amazing theater building and I feel honored to get to use it. I am looking forward to joining the existing theatre family that is at the high school, and working with the students and staff to grow a prospering theater program. And most of all, I look forward to just having a lot of fun with, from what I’ve heard and experienced so far, an awesome community of students and faculty at Scappoose High School.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Mona MartinezMona Martinez — Ms. Martinez

Advanced math teacher

Originally from: St. Helens and California

Previous work: Tulare Western High School, Tulare Adult School, Sierra Vista Independent Study High School, Pinnacles Alternative High School, La Paz Middle School

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

My hope and goal is to have my students achieve a proficient level in my math classes.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy spending time with youth watching them learn and grow as individuals.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am looking forward to having my students achieve success and pride in their achievements and our school to be State Champions again in sports.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Katherine ConleyKatherine Conley — Ms. Conley

Ninth-grade English teacher

Originally from: Oregon Coast, Vancouver, Wash.

Previous work: most recently Stayton High School

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I am looking forward to meeting my students and working with my most excellent English colleagues (and other Scappoose teachers as well).

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy most about teaching when students get excited about learning. Teens are a fun group to work with!

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I hope to be a motivator to my students, an encourager to my colleagues, and the absolutely most hilarious person everyone knows.

Scappoose Middle School

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Kari VanKommerKari VanKommer — Miss VanKommer or Miss VK

Eighth-grade social studies teacher

Originally from: Hillsboro

Previous work: Corporate marketing, background in architectural history

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy the variety, every day is different! I also enjoy how much I continue to learn through the students I have and the lessons I plan.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am most looking forward getting to talk about history and historical thinking every day, as well as getting to know my students and figuring out how best to move them each forward!

Otto Petersen Elementary School

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Richard LeeRichard Lee — Mr. Lee

Special education teacher

Originally from: San Francisco, Calif.

Previous work: Public and private school work, first through 12th grade

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I hope to make a difference, I want to make a difference.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

What I enjoy most about teaching is when I work with a student who is having trouble and then he/she has that “ahha” moment and realizes that they can do it.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Olivia VavrochOlivia Vavroch — Ms. V

Special education teacher

Originally from: Elberon, Iowa

Previous work: Two years in Oregon, Special education in Cambridge, Mass., Continuing Education and the nonprofits

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

My favorite part of being a teacher is working with students to instill the expectation that students put in their best efforts toward reaching the academic goals they set for themselves and take responsibility for the actions they choose along the way. In doing so, students gain confidence in their own abilities to be creative and collaborative problems solvers.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I’m so excited and grateful to be a part of starting the new Supported Learning Center at Otto Petersen Elementary. Having met my students and learning more about their strengths and creativity, I’m looking forward to supporting them as they grow as individuals and as part of the supportive and energetic community within OPE.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Vanessa GonrowskiVanessa Gonrowski — Mrs. Gonrowski

Fifth-grade teacher

Originally from: Ketchikan, Alaska, Monmouth

Previous work: Warner Pacific graduate

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I hope to have a classroom that is encouraging to students, I hope that as a teacher I can provide a safe place where students can feel comfortable to be themselves and to ask questions. My goal would be that every student I have leaves the year with more knowledge than they had when they began the year.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am really excited about this year for two reasons. First I was fortunate enough to complete my student teaching at Petersen and in fifth grade ... Also, with this being my first year with my own classroom I am looking forward to all of those first moments and learning what it really means to be a teacher. I know it is more than just filling students with information, it is about helping them grow and learn in many aspects of their lives.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Tracy BakerTracy Baker — Mrs. Baker

Sixth-grade teacher

Originally from: Scappoose, Ore.

Previous work: Grant Watts, 2nd and 6th grade

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I love working with and developing relationships with my students. Building solid relationships & a safe, positive classroom environment are important to me. My students need to know that I genuinely care about them. I enjoy watching my former kiddos in their sporting events, leadership positions, seeing them at church, running into families at Fred Meyer and at the park. I enjoy many things about teaching, but the relationships & memories I get to create each year top the list.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am looking forward to working with upper elementary kids again, and also an awesome 6th grade teaching team.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Laycee KinsmanLaycee Kinsman – Ms. Kinsman

Sixth-grade teacher

Originally from: Portland

Previous work: teacher in Hillsboro

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

[I] love to see the hard work and determination of my learners.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am excited to join the Scappoose school district and to learn what it is to be part of a small, close knit community.

Grant Watts Elementary School

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Sarah SoltzSarah Soltz — Ms. Soltz

Title 1 reading specialist

Originally from: New York

Previous work: Nike Child Development Program, New York City Public Schools

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I’m excited to be joining Scappoose this year as the Title I specialist at Grant Watts. I hope to partner with families, staff, and the community in order to help more students become proficient readers.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Children’s curiosity.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

Building relationships with students, families, and staff in the Scappoose community.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Marah GannawayMarah Gannaway - Ms. Gannaway

Kindergarten teacher

Originally from: Warrenton

Previous work: Warrenton Grade School - kindergarten, second, third, and sixth grades

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

With my experience of implementing full-day kindergarten and teaching full-day kindergarten for three years, I hope to help make the process seamless and smooth. In the future, I hope I can be of assistance to help implement programs and/or provide resources for families to help children gain kindergarten readiness skills before attending kindergarten.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am looking forward to working with the students and families in my classroom, as well as the staff at Grant Watts. My son, Malaki, will start school in Scappoose and I am looking forward to him making new friends and continuing to learn. I am also excited to get to know and become a part of the Scappoose community.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Katie CooperKatie Cooper — Miss Cooper

Music teacher (also at Warren Elementary School)

Originally from: Texas, Portland for six years

Previous work: First year teaching

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I hope to instill life skills into students that will extend beyond their ability to sing or play an instrument, such as confidence, leadership, ownership, and teamwork.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I love that learning is a two-way street! As much as I teach students, they continually teach me and I enjoy this exchange that is always happening.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I’m looking forward to learning about and being involved in a close knit, supportive community!

Warren Elementary School

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Alyssa StutzerAlyssa Stutzer — Ms. Stutzer

Kindergarten teacher

Originally from: Scappoose

Previous work: Springfield School District — kindergarten and third grade, kindergarten assistant in Portland

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

My hope is to have fun with the kids, build relationships and really inspire the kids to love learning. My goal for this year is to connect with each student and help them be successful in school.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is the rewarding feeling I get knowing that I am helping children.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am looking forward to being creative and bringing fun into my classroom!

Sauvie Island Academy

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Joshua Grisa
Joshua Grisa — Josh

Fifth-grade aide

Originally from: Phoenix, Ariz.

Previous work: Assistant instructor at a Montessori preschool, Respite care provider for Department of Human Services.

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I hope to have goals. I do look forward to working in a classroom with a new age group.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

The smiles and laughter.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I’m excited about joining this new community.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Lori JohnsonLori Johnson - Ms. Johnson

Kindergarten aide

Originally from: Redland and Warren

Previous work: Sauvie Island Academy, dental office manager

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I really love working at the school. It has proven to be the perfect place for me to work and be in sync with my children.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

SIA has awesome students and a super great staff!! As always I look forward to learning more and having a great year!

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Cathy HornessCathy Horness — Ms. Cathy

Third-grade aide

Originally from: Cheyenne, Wyo., Clatskanie and Scappoose

Previous work: Special education teaching aide for Scappoose schools, office aide and substitute office secretary

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

It is my hope that I help make a difference in the learning capabilities of the students I am working with in the classroom setting and to be able to provide the assistance that the teachers need to further the education of the entire class. In the morning care time it is my goal to provide a comfortable but exciting atmosphere for those whose school day begins with the Morning Care program.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy seeing the students improve both academically and socially. To see them be able to recognize who they are in the scheme of things and feel good about themselves. When a student is struggling and then one day “the light goes on” and they gain an understanding of how to work out a math problem or to read a set of words or write within the lines it is a positive experience for everyone.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Karin RadkeKarin Radke — Ms. Karin

After school care

Originally from: Sauvie Island

Previous work: Studying early childhood education at BYU-Idaho.

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position? I hope to provide a comfortable environment for the children in after care, with many activities from arts and crafts to outdoor fun.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

What I enjoy most about working with children is seeing their creativity and fresh outlook on life. As the smallest humans they have big hearts.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?

This year I look forward to meeting old and new friends at Sauvie Island Academy and being a part these wonderful children’s education.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Patsy HombergPatsy Homberg — Miss Patsy

Reading tutor

Originally from: Aloha

Previous work: Orton-Gillingham reading tutor for The Blosser Center for Dyslexia Resources in Portland; substitute instructional assistant at Sauvie Island Academy; Student teacher for sixth grade at Meadow Park Middle School, Beaverton School District; instructional assistant for Title 1M program at Groner Elementary School, Hillsboro School District

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

To continue and further develop the collaboration with teachers and parents in identifying and teaching students with dyslexia and those who could use extra support mastering reading and spelling.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Connecting with students and empowering them through their own learning and accomplishments.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

Being a part of such a wonderful community at Sauvie Island Academy and helping bring the gift of reading to our students.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Gwendolyn KaplinGwendolyn Kaplin — Ms. Gwendolyn

Counselor

Originally from: Portland

Previous work: Outdoor and leadership skills instructor, ski and dance instructor, student teaching practicum in Portland Public Schools

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I hope to help all our students access a rigorous education. I also hope to help all our students find meaningful connections in themselves and to their peers and community. I hope to be a contributing member of this incredible community, and I hope to form positive, encouraging relationships with as many students as possible.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I’m in education because I love working with children, and I’m inspired by how easily they can grow and make positive change. In a counseling role, I am so lucky to get to see the best of students: their resilience in the face of adversity, and the things they love that keep them moving forward.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I’m most looking forward to getting to know all the students!

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Kim HenrieKim Henrie — Ms. Kim

Art teacher

Originally from: Alpine, Utah

Previous work: Graphic designer / photographer

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I am hoping to help students find their inner artist. I think it is important to know who you are as an artist, and develop your personal style.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I love being involved in the community, teaching is a great opportunity to reach out in the community and make an impact.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I’m excited to get the kids excited about art! The arts teach children that there is more than one answer. It is a great learning opportunity for teamwork, problem solving and self expression.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Danita PappasDanita Pappas — Ms. D

Music teacher

Originally from: Seaside

Previous work: K-12 music in Arlington

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I hope to give the Sauvie Island Academy students continued quality music education. I want to share my love of music with the community and share some amazing musical opportunities with everyone. All students can be music makers. I hope to show them how!

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I love the students! I love connecting with them and helping them to connect to music in positive ways. To see a student overcome fear and develop confidence is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an educator. I also love when a student is excited to share something they learn with me. I had a 7th grade student come up to me one day “Ms. D, have you heard of this guy Louis Armstrong? He’s so cool!”

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Jamie TinningJamie Tinning — Ms. Jamie

Kindergarten teacher

Originally from: Portland, St. Johns and

Scappoose

Previous work: Substitute in the Salem-Keizer School District, educational assistant and substitute teacher at Sauvie Island

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I love that I will get to introduce my students to school for the first time. I want to instill a love of learning and a strong sense of community into my students.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I really enjoy that as a teacher, I get to learn and explore right along with my students.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am looking forward to getting to know my students and trying new things together!

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Amelia TaylorAmelia Taylor — Ms. Taylor

English Language Development teacher

Originally from: New Jersey

Previous work: ELD for the North Clackamas School District and Greater Albany Public Schools in Oregon

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I hope to be able to guide my students to gain confidence in speaking English. One important goal for me is to encourage them to maintain their first language and speak it frequently.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy the connections I have with my students, watching them grow, become aware of their environment, and become strong and independent learners.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I am looking forward to working closely with SIA staff and developing a team teaching approach to ELD.

Marike McCartney — Ms. Marike

Math tutor

Originally from: St. Helens

Previous work: McBride Elementary School

What are some of the hopes and goals you have for this position?

I hope to help each student feel confident in their ability to learn and to enjoy being at school.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

One of my favorite things about teaching is the moment when a student finally grasps a concept or skill that they have been practicing.

What are you looking forward to most about this year?

I’m looking forward to being part of a great community of students, staff, and families, and to the new adventure.

The following teachers did not respond to the questionnaire, but are new on staff: Ellie Nelson - special education; Kevin Loncosky - special education; Alison Howell - counselor; Nick Jenkins - counselor; Amanda Small - Title 1 specialist; Ginger Vincent - chef.

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