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GAPS teachers will spend summer break learning new skills

Posted on: June 2, 2017

Photo: Democrat-Herald

Two GAPS teachers have plans for travel and educational enrichment over summer vacation. West Albany High School teacher June Morris and Memorial Middle School teacher Kerrie O’Brien will travel to Chile in July with 10 other Oregon teachers to learn about the geography of Northern Chile.

The following story in the Democrat-Herald explains the details:

Two Albany teachers will be sharing a new perspective with their science and geography students this fall after spending part of their summer studying in northern Chile.

June Morris of West Albany High School and Kerrie O’Brien of Memorial Middle School will travel to Chile from July 5 to 22 with 10 other Oregon teachers.

The trip’s costs are covered courtesy of the Center for Geography Education of Oregon. The center, housed at Portland State University, organizes and pays for travel opportunities for its member teachers as part of its mission: to improve geography education throughout the state.

“The idea is that teachers who teach about the world should travel the world,” explained Morris, who teaches Advanced Placement European History, AP Human Geography and freshman geography at West.

The opportunity to travel enhances not only the teacher’s training but the student experience, because students tend to be much more engaged when they’re hearing a firsthand perspective, added O’Brien, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science and a Talented and Gifted enrichment class at Memorial. And, she said, it may inspire more students to travel themselves.

This will be the teachers’ second overseas trip with the Center for Geography Education in Oregon. Both traveled to Turkey in 2012.

In Chile, the teachers will be exploring various geographical areas, from the arid Atacama Desert — “There are places it has not rained for as long as there have been people there to report it,” O’Brien said — to the Willamette Valley-like terrain of the Central Valley.

Both teachers will use the experiences to craft lessons for their students on their return.

O’Brien, whose seventh-graders study plate tectonics, is planning a unit on how Chileans coped with a 1960 earthquake considered the most powerful ever recorded. Both Oregon and Chile lie near subduction zones, which means multiple opportunities for studying what might be done locally in advance of the devastating quake expected to someday strike the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Morris said she hasn’t got a lesson plan fully developed yet — that’s part of what will be done through the trip — but as an AP European History teacher, she’s looking forward to seeing the legacy of Spanish colonialism and its effect on indigenous populations.

Both teachers say they joke that geography is “the mother of all subjects,” but at the same time, neither one really see that statement as a joke at all.

Until she took a professional development course with the center, then called the Oregon Geographic Alliance, O’Brien said she thought of geography lessons as filling in blank maps with crayoned rivers and mountain ranges.

After that experience, she said, she’s learned the subject is really about the essence of the human experience: how people’s surroundings affect them, and how they in turn affect those surroundings. Everything from travel to trade, language development to social changes, is affected by the placement of a society in the world.

“Knowing where stuff is is kind of important, but it’s much more important to think geographically,” O’Brien said.

Not all teachers get much exposure to geography in that way, Morris added. That’s why the center’s work is so critical, she said: It helps teachers to develop that understanding of geography as an essential topic.

“It’s really excellent professional development,” she said. “We’re supposed to go out and be geo-evangelizers.”

Advanced Placement Art students submit final projects for scoring

Posted on: May 30, 2017

Advanced Placement classes include a final test or project. If students meet minimum score requirements, they receive college-level credit for the course. Most classes have a final exam, but studio classes, such as art, require final projects that are shipped to independent evaluators for scoring.

This project by West Albany High School student Conner Welsh is on display at the school. It will be sent for judging. Conner is in Babette Grunwald’s art class.

Advanced Placement courses are offered in numerous subjects at both South Albany and West Albany high schools.

Bond project planning has started

Posted on: May 25, 2017

Bond project timelines were discussed during the last School Board meeting on May 18. The plan is to open three of the four new construction projects by start of school in fall 2019: new elementary school, rebuild of Oak Grove Elementary School, vocational space/gym at South Albany High school.

Phase 1 of West Albany High School is scheduled to be completed in summer 2020.

See the draft project timeline for more information.

We will provide updates during the planning process on the bond information section of the website.

Congratulations, Retirees!

Posted on: May 24, 2017

The annual retiree reception recognized the contributions of 30 GAPS teachers, classified staff and administrators who are leaving the District after serving Greater Albany students for a combined total of 539 years.

Family members and friends joined retirees at the tropical paradise-themed reception. Human Resources Director Randy Lary introduced the following retirees:

  • Lenora Roberts, Grade 1 – Fir Grove : 37 years
  • Kerri Lemerande, Science – WAHS: 29 years
  • Lori McGuire, Assistant to HR Director – District Office: 29 years
  • Barb Villaruel, School Office Manager – Waverly: 28 years
  • Cindy Holcomb, Grade 2 – Oak: 26 years
  • Kathy Kalina, Special Education Assistant – Periwinkle : 26 years
  • Karen Kennedy, School Office Manager – SAHS: 24 years
  • Connie Shrout, Grade 4 – Timber Ridge: 23 years
  • Judy Davies, Special Education Assistant – North Albany Elementary: 22 years
  • Cindy Miller, Functional Skills – Calapooia Middle: 22 years
  • Krista Hartman, College Credit – WAHS: 21 years
  • Maria Martinez, Counseling Secretary & Registrar – Memorial Middle: 21 years
  • Pat Weidmann, Principal – Sunrise : 21 years
  • Sharon DuBeau,  Language Arts – Calapooia Middle: 18 years
  • Jessica Jamison-Wells, Language Arts – North Albany Middle: 18 years
  • Terry Amerling, Special Education Assistant – Liberty : 17 years
  • Jennifer Hagen, Personal Care Assistant – SAHS: 16 years
  • Leo Huot, Assistant Principal – North Albany Middle: 16 years
  • Sandi McGinnis, Special Education Assistant – Calapooia Middle: 16 years
  • Robert Frampton, Special Needs Bus Driver – Transportation: 15 years
  • LaDeen Marlowe, Bus Driver – Transportation: 14 years
  • Gary Johnson, Custodian – Memoria Middle: 13 years
  • Mary Lou Seibel, Custodian – Oak: 12 years
  • Tim Haag, Grade 4 – Central: 11 years
  • Ruth Holmes, Special Education Assistant – South Shore: 11 years
  • Greg Lehr, Custodian – Calapooia Middle: 11 years
  • Durwood Ranton, Bus Driver – Transportation: 11 years
  • Joyce Stringer, Business – SAHS: 11 years
  • Corina Victorio, Secretary – South Shore; 5 years
  • Kim Schueller, Special Education Assistant-Communication – Takena: 5 years


Posted on: May 17, 2017
Thank you to our community for passing the bond.  We feel so fortunate to live and work  in a community that does whatever it takes to help our schools. We are so excited about  the rebuild of West Albany.  Again, thank you!!!

Voters pass Ballot Measure 22-165 for new schools and improvements

Posted on: May 16, 2017

Greater Albany voters approved Measure 22-165 in the May 16 election with a passing rate of  54 percent.

“We want to thank our community for its support of our schools,” said Superintendent Jim Golden. “This measure will make a difference to kids and to our whole community.”

The bond will:

  • Fix aging school buildings
  • Make energy improvements
  • Make school safety and security improvements
  • Add/expand vocational and technical classrooms at all middle and high schools
  • Relieve overcrowding and accommodate growth

The planning process will begin immediately. A project timeline and plan will be announced in the coming weeks and will include opportunities for community involvement.

High school students: Sign up for LBCC summer learning programs

Posted on: May 7, 2017

LBCC has opened registration for its annual high school summer academies. Students who are entering grades 9-12 or have just graduated can sign up for a three-day hands-on learning experience in four in-demand training programs.

Options are:

  • Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD)
  • Machine Tool
  • Mechatronics Technician
  • Welding

Each program last three days and runs three hours each day. Registration is free.

Sign up here: www.linnbenton.edu/summeracademies

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