2010-11 Teacher of the Year - Joyce Garland

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Congratulations to Joyce Garland, who was named the Oregon Small Schools Association’s Teacher of the Year for 2010-2011 during the November Small Schools Breakfast at the OSBA Annual Convention in Portland. Garland is history teacher at Sheridan High School (Sheridan School District) in Sheridan, Ore.

Garland, who’s taught at Sheridan High for all of her nine-year teaching career, was nominated by her principal, superintendent and head of the school’s English department. Sheridan High Principal Dean Rech said that as he read the criteria for the OSSA Teacher of the Year, he “realized that I have the 2010/11 Teacher of the Year in my building.”

“In the fourteen years that I have worked in education, I have never met someone with so much passion and dedication to help students as I have witnessed in Joyce,” Rech said in his nomination letter. “She truly personifies the heart of a teacher by her willingness to go the extra mile for her students.”

Rech added that while Garland has been instrumental in much positive change at Sheridan High School, she is the “brain child” of the Spartan Academy, a course designed to help students recover their credits. Since Garland started the program nine years ago, hundreds of Sheridan students have gotten back on track to graduate.

“She is an incredible teacher with an amazing gift for reaching young men and women,” Rech said. “Through her tireless efforts and insightful contributions, she has made a more promising future for the students at Sheridan High School.”

Garland says that after 13 years as a stay-at-home mom, coaching her sons’ soccer teams, volunteering in classrooms and tutoring, teaching seemed to come naturally.

“I loved the classroom climate, the interaction with the students, and the camaraderie of the staff,” Garland said in her award application. While pursuing her social science teaching degree at Western Oregon University, Garland had the opportunity to student teach at Sheridan High School. Her experience there impressed administrators, who offered Garland a full-time foods and social studies teaching position just two months after she graduated with honors from WOU in June 2002. She later achieved her Master’s in Education from WOU in 2006.

Garland said she appreciates having had the opportunity to teach so many different subjects at Sheridan – 25 so far – and the chance to get to know so many of the school’s students. She even claims that her biggest accomplishment was accepting a job in a place that allowed her room to grow and nurture relationships with supportive people.

“We are a small, intimate community of staff and students, and I cherish the family feel of our school,” she said. “I believe that my accomplishments have been encouraged, supported and nurtured by two extraordinary principals and a superintendent who allowed me to create courses, implement best practices, lead fellow staff, attend intensive training seminars, and follow my heart to develop what is in the best interest of everyone in our school. Because of their confidence in me, I have conquered goals beyond my imagination.”