Katie Gisler

Position: English Teacher / Department Chair

School: South Albany High School

School District: Greater Albany Public Schools

City, State: Albany, Oregon

About the Nominee: Katie Gisler was nominated by her principal, Brent Belveal. Mrs. Gisler is an incredible educator who has dedicated her life to the students in her school. She arrives early and leaves late. She is at every game, concert or event that her students are involved with.

Mrs. Gisler works with some of the most challenged students who are unable to pass the state test. She finds a way to meet their individual needs to get them to graduate. On the other end of the spectrum, she also teaches her school's most advanced English students and is as much a mother to them as she is a teacher. She helps these students through the various challenges they encounter while still helping them to understand the general importance of learning and understand themselves through their own reading and writing.

Mrs. Gisler is leading a new team of AVID teachers who work with some of the ninth grade students who need extra support and guidance. It's been a match made in heaven as the students respond to her nature and her warmth. She gives up her Tuesday nights to hang out with her Key Club students as they serve a free community meal every Tuesday at a local church. The meal is great, but the life lessons the students learn through Mrs. Gisler's patience and understanding are far more important.

She is always willing to serve on any school committee and is all about bringing her best to her students. Mrs. Gisler's students learn how important it is to care about others and give back. Throughout her career, Mrs. Gisler has guided some incredibly successful students, and she has supported the most challenged students. To her, every student is of equal importance, and she values the whole child. The students know she cares for them and will do anything she asks.

Mrs. Gisler is more than an exemplary teacher; she's truly a LifeChanger in her school and her community!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="katie.gisler@albany.k12.or.us"]

Tarryn Hicks

Position: Math Teacher

School: International School of Beaverton

School District: Beaverton School District

City, State: Aloha, Oregon

About the Nominee: Tarryn Hicks was nominated by a student, Kate Towner. Ms. Hicks gives her students one-on-one attention. She meets with them after school, and will even change her schedule to help them understand what is being taught. She shows her students many different ways to solve math problems and the exact steps they need to take. The best thing about Ms. Hicks is that she is always patient with everyone!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="Tarryn_Hicks@beaverton.k12.or.us"]

Anne Shull

Position: Principal School: Chenowith Elementary School

School District: North Wasco County School District 21

City, State: The Dalles, Oregon

About the Nominee: “At the school level-the moral imperative of the principal involves leading deep cultural change that mobilizes the passion and commitment of teachers, parents, and others to improve the learning of all students, including closing the achievement gap. (Fullen)”

What is it that enables a principal to lead deep cultural changes within a school, staff, students and district? What skills do they need to have that will pave the way for forming successful relationships with stakeholders and will help them navigate between the roles of mentor, evaluator, politician and advocate? How can a principal improve learning and close the achievement gap? These are all things that need to be considered when considering how a principal can and will support effective instruction. It is often stated that schools that work for children have visionary leaders. In order to support any existing effective practice, the leader has to have a vision as to where they want to go and what they want the school to look like. Sometimes they will carry out the vision in a democratic manner. Other times, it will require authority and not so popular choices, but the principal must prove to staff, students and parents that they are competent, trustworthy and willing to do what it takes to make the school the best place for kids. Anne Shull is this type of leader.

She has the ability and a track record of being able to work with staff, students and various stakeholder groups to get their input on attainable goals and program direction and implementation. She is also skilled in revising these goals to fit within the overall vision of the school. These tasks require her to communicate effectively, openly and honestly. She is a leader who can follow through with what she says, and she has a solid understanding of what students and staff need at Chenowith Elementary School and what current research and best practices look like.

Principals of high achieving schools not only share their vision and expectations for high standards and students success, but they also incorporate those standards into their hall signs, parent communication and mission statements. This places some action behind the vision and words. Ms. Shull’s leadership style is based on the foundation of shared vision. She has said that you can try and wrestle everyone to think the way that you do, or you can start with a shared idea and allow the vision to grow from a mutual point. Ms. Shull has exemplified this at her school!

As principal, it is her obligation to ensure that best practices are not being sacrificed in order to avoid a hard fought battle of compromise, but to instead have a culture of buy-in rather than a culture of contempt. This is the loose-tight leadership style. She understands that sometimes, she must stand firm in something and can allow trial during other times. Having the wisdom of when to be loose and when to be tight is the sign of a mature leader.

The principal’s primary job is to ensure that their building is doing what is best for students. In order to do this they need to be able to make decisions regarding staff, curriculum and schedules. All of these factors affect the quality of instruction. In order to have real impact in regards to curriculum, achievement, culture, etc. and close the achievement gap, it takes a skilled professional who is a life-long, born leader with a love of education and a desire to make sure that students are getting what is best in regards to their knowledge acquisition and social educational experience. Ms. Shull is this life-changing leader. She cares deeply for those she works with, and she advocates for what is right and what is in the best interest for students. Ms. Shull has created a culture that feeds and motivates her staff, builds capacity in her families and cultivates hope to accomplish their dreams in children.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="shulla@nwasco.k12.or.us"]

Pam McQueary

Position: SEA/Behavior Specialist School: Liberty Elementary School

School District: Greater Albany Public Schools

City, State: Albany, Oregon

About the Nominee: Pam McQueary was nominated by her principal, Rich Sipe.

Pam McQueary is the Behavior Specialist at Liberty Elementary School, which is a school of 350 students. She makes a positive impact on students and builds a supportive culture every single day. Ms. McQueary interacts with students who have a variety of needs ranging from emotionally charged issues to social services. Regardless of the issues or circumstances, she treats all students with respect and dignity, teaching them essential life skills to help them navigate through their problems. Patient, persistent, and resourceful, Ms. McQueary has a gift for reaching all kinds of students. She can successfully de-escalate even the most volatile situation and get students back on track. Ms. McQueary reinforces the school's Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and is instrumental in helping staff implement the program throughout the school, ensuring students are held to a consistent behavior expectation across the board. The result is a school where students are kind to each other, model appropriate behavior in all areas of school life, and develop critical problem solving skills. The school mantra of "Safe, Responsible, and Respectful" is well understood throughout the community due to Ms. McQueary's efforts. She has been so successful at Liberty in her ten years of service that her district, Greater Albany Public Schools, is in the process of promoting her to a district-level position. Ms. McQueary is highly regarded by her peers, both within Liberty Elementary and across the district. She has assisted with trainings involving other Behavior Specialists within the District and is universally held in high regard. The result of her positive attitude and work ethic is a committed and dedicated staff member who brightens students' lives on a daily basis. Ms. McQueary's character is beyond reproach, and she models character traits that are an example and inspiration to our students and staff. Liberty Elementary has been blessed to have her outstanding services for the past ten years!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="pam.mcqueary@albany.k12.or.us"]

Laurie Robinson

Position: Kitchen Manager School: South Albany High School

School District: Greater Albany Public Schools

City, State: Albany, Oregon

About the Nominee: Laurie Robinson was nominated by Kathy Pitzer.

Laurie Robinson goes above and beyond every day, not only to make sure the students and staff at South Albany High School get the highest quality and most nutritious meal she can provide, but to make their dining experiences as enjoyable as possible. She knows almost every student by name and always takes the time to chat with them during breakfast and lunch services, even if it's just to say hello. Ms. Robinson is a joy to work with and a model employee and member of the Albany community!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="laurie.robinson@albany.k12.or.us"]