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School Improvement Services

Oregon Regional Teacher of the Year Nominations are Now Open

By News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

The Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Oregon Lottery, is pleased to announce the continuation of Oregon Regional Teacher of the Year to honor exemplary educators in every region of the state!

  • Nominations are open statewide through February 21, 2024
  • Oregon Education Service Districts will select a winner from their region
  • Regional Teachers of the Year will be honored across the state in May 2024!
  • One of the Regional Teachers of the Year will be named the 2025 Oregon Teacher of the Year in September 2024!

Regional Teachers of the Year will receive a cash prize of $1000 and will be celebrated across the state.  The 2025 Oregon Teacher of the Year will receive a $10,000 cash prize (with a matching $5,000 going to their school!) and serve as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers.

Anyone can nominate a teacher! All Oregonians are encouraged to nominate their favorite teacher today at:

CTE construction students work alongside Knife River

By College and Career (CC4A) / STEAM, News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

Over 100 Bonanza CTE construction students worked alongside Knife River at Bonanza High school to finish concrete and run a pump truck as they built their very own new gym. These students have partaken in Youscience Brain Games to learn about aptitudes and interests. Geer Up Funds this year are helping these students to get exposure to a variety of different hands on exploration experiences so they can discover their passion! Oregon Community Foundation has provided funds through the STEM Hub to help connect students at Bonanza with Youscience results to the Pre-apprenticeship Program at KCC. What an amazing opportunity for the students at Bonanza to get to explore the construction trades while also building their very own gym!

STEAM Shared Impact Report

By College and Career (CC4A) / STEAM, News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

The aim of our evaluation was to see what kind of quality of impact the Southern Oregon STEAM Hub is having on the educators and partners. To understand this, we explored two broad evaluation questions.

  1. What kind and quality of impact are we having on educators and partners?
  2. What aspects of our program are causing this impact?

Read the full report.


Forbes Article mentions our SOREN Partner Jay Schroder

By News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

Rethinking The Value Of One Of America’s Greatest Untapped Resources: Teachers

Very few people will deny that the job of a teacher is tough. But how tough is it—really?

It’s so tough that teachers are now the most burned-out employees in America.

It’s so challenging that fewer than 1 in 5 Americans would encourage a young person to become a K-12 teacher

And it’s so hard that teacher vacancies are up 51% over last year.

Though I work with educators almost every day and witness many teachers’ front-line struggles, I know what I see is just the tip of the iceberg. “We are caught in a negative feedback loop in which the stress of the job worsens the teacher shortage,” says Jay Schroder, educator and author of Teach From Your Best Self. “This in turn increases the strain on the system, accelerating burnout and inducing more teachers to leave.”

Read the full article.



Director of the Oregon Department of Education visits Southern Oregon

By News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

On Monday, October 30, Dr. Charlene Williams, Director of the Oregon Department of Education visited Southern Oregon to attend the SOESD/ODE Integrated Programs Regional Planning session. While in the area, Dr. Williams visited Phoenix Elementary School (in the Phoenix Talent School District) and Table Rock Elementary School (in the Eagle Point School District). While in the schools, Dr. Williams spent time observing math, music and reading instruction. She also read to a kindergarten class and a kindergarten transitions class. Dr. Mark Angle-Hobson, Director of School Improvement Services, helped facilitate the site visits.

Photos by Dean MacInnis and video by Joe Zavala.

Pinehurst School Library Gets a Makeover, Thanks to ODE Grant

By News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

Pinehurst Library pre-revitalization, with shelves jammed full of many outdated and unappealing books.

Pinehurst School renovated their library over the summer, thanks to a grant from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), removing hundreds of shabby and outdated books.The school is now adding many brand-new and diverse  titles to the shelves and cataloging the collection using the newly implemented Destiny library software.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to give our library a sorely needed makeover,” said District Administrator Deirdre Barber. “In a few short months, the library has gone from an unused room to a place where children are choosing and reading books! It’s made everyone at Pinehurst so happy.”

The school received one of the 86 ESSER III grants to school districts, $10,000 for revitalizing their

school library. The grants were part of the pandemic recovery funds and could be spent on books, staff time to process them, and updated furnishing. 

With advice from one of SOESD’s consulting librarians, Miranda Doyle, staff at the tiny rural school first went through the collection to weed books that were no longer appealing or useful. Many books were decades old and in poor condition, with information that was out of date. 

Removing these books to leave the ones of current interest made a huge difference. Instead of packed but unappealing shelves, the library now has more space to display book covers and for browsing the much improved collection. Students and staff will also be able to use the Destiny catalog to look up and locate books, and to borrow them.

Pinehurst Library after the weeding project, with more engaging books and furniture, an appealing atmosphere, and with room to display book covers and for browsing the shelves.

The bulk of the grant goes to ordering new books, from award winners to popular series titles. Picture books, beginning readers, graphic novels and award-winning fiction are all part of the revitalization. The library is now more accessible, students will be more engaged with reading, and the collection reflects the students and the wider community.

Instructional Assistant Desiree Elder also praised the changes to the library.. “Our newly renovated and updated library is not just a room with books: it’s a gateway to knowledge, a haven for imagination, and a treasure trove of endless possibilities for our community children.”  

For more information on the grants, see  School Library Revitalization Grant webpage.


By News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

On behalf of the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Lottery, Southern Oregon Education Service District (SOESD) is proud to announce the selection of Steve Kessler, Director of Bands at North Medford High School, as a 2023-24 Oregon Regional Teacher of the Year.  Kessler was honored Wednesday in his band classroom while students cheered him on. He was awarded a check for $1000 from the Oregon Lottery.

SOESD convened a virtual Blue-Ribbon Panel made up of diverse and unbiased panel members who represented the geographic region of Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties. The panel, who reviewed many applications from a larger set of nominations, found that Kessler had the highest average rubric score of all candidates. The panelists made these observations during their deliberations:

  • Steve is inclusive, seeks student voice, and is very encouraging and motivating.
  • Steve sees band as “family” and articulates a commitment to all students.
  • Steve makes attempts to connect his students to composers for real-world connections.
  • Steve is very involved at the regional and national level, giving his students opportunities to be visible.
  • Steve has a keen awareness of social justice, and the role music plays in social justice.
  • Steve develops opportunities for his students (versus taking advantage of opportunities that become available).
  • The scope of Steve’s work extends far beyond the classroom.

The Oregon Teacher of the Year Program started in 1955 and is managed by the Oregon Department of Education.  Anyone can nominate a candidate for the recognition, but teachers may not nominate themselves.  Once selected, the Oregon Teacher of the Year is also a candidate to apply for the National Teacher of the Year recognition.  The selected teacher serves as the face and voice of exemplary educators across the state of Oregon and engages and inspires other teachers and community leaders as a representative of the profession.

Oregon Department of Education chose in 2018-19 to expand the selection process for the nominees.  The goal of the expansion is to honor teachers in every region of the state.  Education Service Districts across Oregon reviewed applications submitted from their geographic region and facilitated a Blue-Ribbon Panel and review process to identify winners in their regions.

SOESD is proud of the amazing teachers in our three-county region, exemplified by Kessler, who are focused on quality teaching, learning, and student achievement.

Southern Oregon Equity Summit 2023

By Autism, Curriculum and Assessment, Distance Learning for All, Homepage-Notices, News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

The Southern Oregon Equity Summit 2023 includes high-profile speakers and breakout sessions that provide strategies for understanding equity through a trauma-informed practices approach. We are pleased to bring a slate of wonderful speakers from our area and around the country.

We’ll be holding this year’s Summit at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites and working with multiple partners to offer access to sites across Oregon. These sites will provide virtual access to speakers and enable people to attend as a group and thus engage in interactive discussions and exercises the presenters put forth.

Please join us in Ashland OR. If your district or organization would like to host a site, or you need group registration please contact Aaron Cooke or Nancy Hayes.


August 15th-16th


The Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites and multiple site-based venues.

In-person Fee Schedule

In-person and remote attendance for SOESD regional educators is free.

In-Person Summit Tuesday 8/15 -Wednesday 8/16

Local Educators    Free
Local Partners       $99
Out of Area            $199

Summit costs include lunch and refreshments both days.

If you are out of the area our ESD partners may provide the summit at their own locations around the state. ESD’s  wishing to purchasing streamed access license to provide group access should contact Aaron Cooke. The licenses will be available for $500 for up to 25 individuals; multiple licenses may be purchased. If your organization would like to provide group in-person please contact Aaron Cooke.

Our Equity Summit is made available through the Southern Oregon Regional Educator Network and is free to SOESD districts and their educators.

We are able to offer attendance to our local community partners and non-regional participants for a nominal fee.

Contact Information

Aaron Cooke at 541-261-0107

SOESD Helpdesk Call  541-776-8590 ext 1106.

PDUs   12

Register for Summit!
Conferencing App
In District Online Bookstore
Equity Summit Complete Book List

Summit Keynotes


We take pride that our stakeholders are learners all over the world: that’s whom we invest in; that’s whom we want to live rich, abundant lives through education. On the eve of profound political, cultural, and social change, CEO David McCune challenged us at Corwin to dream, to dare, and to innovate. So dream, dare, and innovate we did, quickly establishing ourselves as the essential source of what works best, when, and for whom in education.

Ricky Robertson

Ricky Robertson has had the privilege to work with students from pre-K to 12th grade who have persevered in the face of adversity and trauma. Ricky is the co-author of the book, “Building Resilience in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Whole-Staff Approach.” As a consultant and coach, Ricky assists schools in developing trauma-informed systems of support and Restorative Practices that foster resilience and success for staff and students.

Keynote: Healing a Million Tiny Cuts: Restorative Responses to Bullying & Bias

We know that bullying, harassment, and other forms of bias harm the mental and emotional health of our students. Research shows that LGBTQ+ youth are especially vulnerable to bullying and educators struggle to intervene when bullying involves sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. Traditionally, we approach these incidents from a disciplinary standpoint; however, it is critical that we address their social-emotional impact as well. Restorative practices offer ways to prevent and address bullying while fostering accountability and community.

Session I: All Means All: LGBTQ+ Equity & Cultural Proficiency

As educators, we encounter many challenges in fulfilling our mission to foster success for all students. For many of us, one of those challenges is learning how to support LGBTQ+ students. Developing LGBTQ+ cultural proficiency is a journey. One that starts with fostering self-awareness and a willingness to approach our own biases with a growth mindset. When we reflect on who we are and how that relates to the students we serve, our practice begins to evolve. We cultivate a common language, teaching practices, and policies that foster safe and affirming schools for all, including our LGBTQ+ students, staff, and families.

Session II: Equity & Trauma-Informed Practices

In this workshop, we will explore trauma through an equity lens. Participants will learn about historical and cumulative trauma and the ways that they impact students of marginalized communities and identities. We will explore the importance of culturally-responsive teaching that affirms all students while fostering their innate resilience.

Native Wellness Institute

The Native Wellness Institute recognizes the great impacts of historical trauma and oppression on our people. We understand that historic trauma has caused current day trauma in our families and communities. This is evident by the high rates of substance abuse, violence, gossip, negativity, poverty and other destructive behaviors and conditions.

As Native people we have the strength and resiliency to move beyond and forward from the hurtful past and utilize what our ancestors left us: prayer, faith, songs, dances, ceremony, language and the perseverance to leave a positive legacy for our future generations.

The Native Wellness Institute exists to help create an awareness of where our negative behavior comes from, provide opportunities for growth and healing and most importantly to help our people move forward in a good way. We do this by providing training and technical assistance based in Native culture that promote the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and places of work.

NWI lives and promotes the “Warrior’s Spirit” which means paying the greatest respect to our ancestors by being as positive, productive and proactive as we can, everyday of our lives.

Presenter: Josh Cocker

Josh Cocker PicJosh is from the Kiowa, or Ka’igwu people in Oklahoma, and the kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. He is a certified outdoor instructor and facilitator, with an associate’s degree from Whitireia Polytechnic in Wellington, New Zealand. He has traveled extensively in the South Pacific for work and service including: Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Australia. Most recently he has worked in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona as a trail walker, coordinator, and trainer for an outdoor behavioral healthcare foundation. From the age of 14, Josh was given a position in a military society of his tribe, and trained as a youth leader to preserve and share traditional knowledge with his generation. He seeks to honor and share that knowledge with everyone. “My hope is that I can help reintroduce people from all walks of life to our First Mother in all her wisdom and beauty. I hope to inspire healing, harmony, and connection through the use and passing of traditional skills in the outdoors.”

Keynote: Using the Fire Within to Light Your Path

With much change and turmoil in recent years with a pandemic, fires, weather, war and more, Josh will use tribal teachings and stories to help bring calm, clarity and curiosity. The keynote will paint a picture and give tools and encouraging words as you plan to navigate another school year.

Session I: Allyship in Education –

As educators it is always important to build relationships and create safe learning environments for students of all backgrounds.  Josh’s unique understanding of diversity in education comes from a Kiowa/ Tongan heritage navigating both systems in the United States and in New Zealand.  Josh will share tactics, principles, and tools in educational allyship from a traditional and contemporary perspective of an Indigenous student and educator.

Session II: Wellness in the Workplace –

This interactive session will  help participants have a better understanding of where unhealthy work behaviors come from and more importantly, how to address them in the workplace. Josh will take participants on a journey of personal and workplace wellness with skills and tools to be a more positive, proactive, and productive employee.


We take pride that our stakeholders are learners all over the world: that’s whom we invest in; that’s whom we want to live rich, abundant lives through education. On the eve of profound political, cultural, and social change, CEO David McCune challenged us at Corwin to dream, to dare, and to innovate. So dream, dare, and innovate we did, quickly establishing ourselves as the essential source of what works best, when, and for whom in education.

Dr. Nicole Law

Dr. Nicole Law is a dynamic and passionate educator who provides relevant professional development to schools and districts across the country. Nicole focuses her experience to present instruction on Professional Teacher Teams, Leadership Improvement Practices and Structures, Data Analysis Models, School Improvement Practices and Structures, Standards-based Instruction and Design, Metacognitive Teaching and Learning Practices, Strategies for Success in Cognitively Rigorous Instruction and Levels of Depth of Knowledge (DOK), Effective Teaching Strategies for English Learners and Special Education Students, as well as Culturally Responsive and Equitable Teaching Practices.

Before joining the Leadership and Learning Center, Dr. Law served as a Curriculum Coordinator for English Language Learners, Cultural Responsivity, AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), District Equity, and Mathematics and Science Instruction in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this position, Dr. Law created multi-layered and faceted professional development for teachers and administrators covering all aspects of directed programs and curricular areas. She has written curriculum in the areas of science, mathematics, and English Language Development. Nicole trained and supported administrators, teacher leaders, site coordinators, and school improvement teams in Decision Making for Results, The Data Teams Process, Sub-group Data Dives, and Gap Reduction Practices.

Keynote: Collective Equity– Creating Communities Where We All Can Breathe

As we transition through very uncertain and challenging times, we have a chance to start again – and do better as a Collective. With newfound acknowledgment of the damage done by structural inequities, systemic racism, and implicit bias, we are ready to create communities that value and support everyone.

In education, that means challenging and dismantling systems that have harmed historically marginalized children and families for generations. In Dr. Law’s presentation, you’ll find a powerful model for using relational trust, cultural humility, and appreciation of diverse perspectives to build learning communities that collectively uplift all students and all members of the learning community in a culturally fortifying way.

Get a preview in her book of the same name.

Session I: Cultural Responsivity By Design 

Develop a comprehensive model of culturally responsive teaching strategies and practices that creates equitable environments for all learners. Educators will learn conditions that are necessary for implementing student-centered instruction that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and culturally. This Design is centered around cultivating a student-centered approach to teaching and learning by which students are supported culturally and linguistically in an environment that nurtures, enhances, and accelerates learning for all.

Session II: Leadership By Design

Engage leaders through a job-embedded approach geared to customize the creation of transformational change in the areas of organizational, instructional, cultural, and programmatic needs of the school. This Design provides leadership coaching to leverage the incorporation of research-based practices and processes to ensure continuous school improvement.

Dignity Consulting

Dignity Consulting LLC helps organizations build and sustain a culture of dignity so everyone can thrive and achieve excellence. Implementing initiatives that address climate and culture can be really tough and lead to more conflict. Organizations often turn to buzzwords, avoid addressing the conflict, or believe the problem exists in other communities, not theirs. However, belonging challenges exist in every community and need to be addressed in order to create environments where each person truly has the opportunity to flourish. We are here to help.

John Krownapple

John is an educator, author, and speaker who specializes in transformative change through professional learning and organizational development. Focused on inclusive work and learning environments, he centers belonging and dignity as the concepts that help people thrive. John has been an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University since 2007, and for fifteen years he served as the coordinator of diversity, equity and inclusion in a school district of over 50,000 students. Additionally, he has served as a classroom teacher, curriculum specialist, and professional development facilitator. John has authored articles and books, and he is the co-author of Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity: The Keys to Successful Equity Implementation.

Keynote: Belonging Beyond a Buzzword

Over the past couple of years, “belonging” has become an international trend in education, and equity-minded leaders have made it an explicit focus. At the same time, experts have argued that our schools and society are experiencing a crisis of belonging that is at the root of so many problems we have been experiencing in schools and beyond. Like any concept that becomes popular during a specific time, belonging runs the risk of becoming a word that people use to say the right thing without digging deeper into the problems that exist within their communities. Yet, as a primary driver of engagement and a key condition for success, there is no doubt that we must prioritize belonging for students, teachers, and anyone within the school community. This session offers a proven, comprehensive framework for nurturing belonging by developing the capacity to honor dignity in behaviors, practices, and policies.

Session I: Dignity as Action

Classrooms and schools that work for all students require a culture of dignity that honors each and every person’s value and worth. (The same is true of workplaces where all staff members have the opportunity to thrive). While this is a simple idea, it’s not easy. Author John Krownapple draws from the book he co-authored with Dr. Floyd Cobb, Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity, to help participants practice using The Dignity Framework for Belonging to analyze the effectiveness of behaviors, practices, and policies.

Session II: Instructional Belonging

Deepen understanding of belonging as a human need and activator of engagement, the platform for achieving academic goals, and the foundation of equity. Learn to nurture belonging in the classroom by honoring dignity within three belonging structures: interpersonal, institutional, and instructional. Apply learnings to instruction and facilitation of learning, walking away with a profound frame and pragmatic solutions for partnering with students to generate the energy for learning and success.

Don’t miss this extension of our work August 17th.


Supporting Autistic Students in The Educational Setting

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SOU LogoSpecial announcement!
For the first time ever our Equity Summit will have Southern Oregon University ED 500 graduate credit available. An additional $75 fee and demonstration of learning required.





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By News, School Improvement Services, School-Wide Improvement

Southern Oregon Success, a cross-sector collaboration for Jackson and Josephine counties, has been invited to be one of three community organizations to present at the first meeting of the Federal Interagency Task Force for Trauma-informed Care, hosted by SAMHSA, the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services program. 

Two other regional trauma-informed collaborations, one from Baltimore, Maryland and one from Kanas City, Missouri, will also be highlighted. The Task Force has members from numerous federal departments, including the Department of Education, the Department of Health & Human Services and others. 

The two-day Summit, titled “Creating an Agenda for Trauma-informed Care:  What Have We Learned and Charting Our Way Forward,” will be held at the SAMHSA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland on July 25 & 26. 

Southern Oregon Success is a community initiative of the Southern Oregon Education Service District (SOESD) and is being recognized for its work to increase awareness of trauma and resilience through its Southern Oregon ACEs Training Team, which has presented over 550 trainings to just under 18,000 participants in Jackson and Josephine counties since 2016. 

The collaboration is also being asked to present information to the Task Force on the wide variety of Southern Oregon Success initiatives that have grown out of the ACEs trainings, particularly the Southern Oregon Early Childhood Support Network launched this spring.  

The Early Childhood Support Network has set a goal of making sure every child in our region has the chance to enter Kindergarten ready to thrive. The network centers on working with families and community partners to develop a Family Success Plan for families who are thinking of becoming pregnant, are pregnant or have children under the age of 5. Once the Family Success Plans are developed by families and their trusted community partner, flexible funding is provided to the family and the community partner to help families meet the goals they have set. With navigation help by the community partner, each family can access the support and resources from all parts of the network to make sure they have the best possible chance to succeed. 

“Our approach is very straightforward,” reports Southern Oregon Success Program Manager, Peter Buckley. “We believe that if families are strong, children will thrive.” 

In addition to the Early Childhood Support Network, Southern Oregon Success initiatives also include efforts to align Preschool and K12 education and to increase the number of School Based Health Centers in every K12 school district in our region. The collaboration also is focused on sustaining and then expanding child care options, securing health care coverage for early childhood educators, increasing the region’s behavioral health workforce and aligning efforts to meet goals for family stability that are set out in the region’s Community Health Improvement Plan. 

In addition, Southern Oregon Success convenes monthly meetings of its Youth Development Work Group for all school districts, agencies and organizations working with youth ages 6 to 24 to make sure that everything possible is being done to align services and supports for the success of the next generation of parents. 

Southern Oregon Success will be represented at the Summit by Bob Lieberman, former CEO of Kairos with over 40 years of experience in the mental health field. Lieberman is one of the founding members of the Southern Oregon Success collaboration and serves as the lead trainer for the Southern Oregon Success ACEs Training Team as well as the regional coordinator of the Southern Oregon Family Resilience Project that teams Southern Oregon Success with three other collaborations doing trauma-informed work in Klamath, Lake, Coos, Curry and Douglas counties. 

“We very much appreciate the invitation to present the work in our region and throughout Southern Oregon to the Federal Inter-Agency Task Force and SAMHSA,” Buckley said. “We see it as recognition of the collaborative work with our Early Learning Hub and all of our community partners in education, health care, human services, public safety and workforce development in Jackson and Josephine counties, as well as the vision and support of SOESD.” 

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