Alumna named Oregon Social Studies Teacher of the Year

Alumna named 2018 Oregon Social Studies Teacher of the Year

Many of us remember a teacher who made a lasting impact. Jessica Colburn’s students may well one day think of her as that teacher. Her work teaching social studies opens her students’ eyes to the world around them. It also impressed her peer teachers around Oregon: Jessica was named the 2018 Oregon Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year.

Alumna Jessica Colburn

Jessica originally focused on the sciences, intending to pursue medical school. But after working in a medical setting, she realized medical school was not for her.

Her next step was to follow in the footsteps of a teacher she had never forgotten, Bend High School social studies teacher Mrs. Pennington.

“She taught me how an understanding of our past is essential to understanding our present, and how what we do today will shape the future,” said Jessica. “It helps us make sense of everything.”

Jessica’s nominator describes a class project she developed for her seventh graders that focused on the Vietnam War. The culmination of the project brought together veterans from the local chapter of Band of Brothers, students, parents and community members at a showcase where students presented “their” veteran with a book of the veteran’s stories, maps where they served, timelines, news articles and more. The students had made sense of everything.

Said the nominator, “Students in her classroom … work hard to understand the strong connections between the events of the past and present.”

Jessica earned her MAT in 2012. She teaches social studies and electives like art and cooking at La Pine Middle School. Her professional development has included being selected to participate in the George Washington Teacher Institute at Mount Vernon, Virginia and the 9/11 and American Memory teacher seminar hosted by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York.

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