2007 Teacher of the Year

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Lori Luna – Corbett School District, Corbett

Lori Luna is this year's 2007 OSSA Teacher of the Year. While all our finalists are very deserving, well-respected educators, Lori’s unique blend of humor and empathy, coupled with an unrelenting demand for academic achievement brought her to the top of the list.

Though fairly new to her education career, Lori is a natural when it comes to her students. Her first teaching job after completing her bachelor’s degree in education at Concordia University in 1999 was as a 4th grade teacher in the Oregon Trail School District. In 2000, Lori arrived at Corbett Middle School, where she has been teaching a blended 7th/8th grade class in a self-contained classroom. Lori is responsible for implementing a new middle school model – redesigned from a departmentalized format – to develop and deliver instruction in all disciplines.

Lori decided to continue her education and received her master’s in education from Concordia in 2005. Yet despite her extended education, Lori says that not a year goes by that she doesn’t feel challenged to stretch her understanding of the art of teaching, revel in the beauty and connectedness of content, and work more collaboratively to bring innovation and excellence into the classroom. Well, while this may be a challenge for Lori, to others she’s made strides with ease.

In 2002, Lori received a $1,500 grant from the Diack Ecology Foundation to implement an outdoor science field station at Corbett. This has created a hands-on cross-curricular opportunity for learning, and provides students with projects that encourage choice and collaboration while also challenging them to develop their curiosity and creativity.

Yet Lori’s greatest contribution to education has been her role in the development of Corbett’s middle school model. Lori has helped mentor several new teachers as they joined the program. After the first year of segregating 7th and 8th grade classes, Lori suggested the middle school become a multi-age program with four 7th/8th blended classrooms, feeling such a change would help to build better relationships between students and teachers, as well as encourage a greater sense of community between 7th and 8th grade students.

It worked. The school’s climate improved almost immediately, and the teachers and staff have created an oasis of learning that consistently delivers results on statewide testing without ever emphasizing the tests.

Lori’s superintendent, Bob Dunton, says that Lori’s greatest gift – once one looks beyond the exemplary classroom practice and her ability to provoke others to do extraordinary things – is her innate ability to foster community. He says she represents the profession of teaching with distinction.

Randy Trani, Principal at Corbett Middle School, calls Lori the “best teacher I had worked with.” In fact, Randy says he is “confident” that Lori is “not only the best teacher I have ever seen, but also the best teacher in the state of Oregon.”

Lori’s fellow teachers also see her talent, and consider her a great mentor. Corbett High math and science teacher Phillip Pearson said the “seeds of our successes in the high school have been planted by Lori.” He says Lori’s leadership has built and sustained a superlative staff characterized by commitment and creativity.

Lori, we have no doubt you deserve the OSSA Teacher of the Year honor this year. Your outstanding dedication to education rises above and beyond the classroom and impacts the very core of your students and your peers. Thank you for sharing your gift of education with all of us.