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School-Wide Improvement

KCC Welding Instructor Kai Connects with Students

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

Kai Graduated from Henley High School in 2022 and always thought she would become a doctor or a veterinarian. The COVID Pandemic hit and Kai’s desires to move across the country and study medicine were replaced by wanting to do something closer to home. Kai headed to Klamath Community College and took a YouScience career Aptitude and Interest test to help her plan her next steps. The results of her aptitude and interests test encouraged Kai to pursue careers in machining, welding, engineering, and mechanics. This didn’t surprise her as she grew up in a mechanically inclined family working on cars. Kai chose to take an entry-level welding class believing that welding was a skill that would always be needed and allow her to make a good living. The beginning was hard, Kai had never welded before. Slowly, but surely, welding started to make sense and it became more fun as her skills progressed. Kai was employed by the welding program as part of her Associate’s Degree work experience. A welding instructor opening came up and Kai was offered a job as a KCC instructor. “The beginning students are my favorite,” said Ranson. “Seeing a new student who has no skills and is full of frustration progress week by week and grow into a competent welder is my favorite thing about being an instructor. Watching the happiness and joy on their faces as they improve makes me enjoy my job.” Ranson’s connection with her beginner students runs deep and she gets emotional when they move on to the next class in the sequence, “It’s bittersweet when they learn the skills they need to move on, I miss them a lot.”

“Teaching is hard, it’s a delicate balance between showing the students what to do and using the correct words to help them understand new concepts,” Ranson added. “Sometimes I have to come up with a different way to explain the same concept to different students and that can be challenging.” Kai currently teaches Welding 101, stick welding, TIG welding, and wire feed welding at KCC. What does the future hold for her? “I would like to explore other career paths that allow me to travel out of Klamath. I can always come home and I can always fall back on Welding. Skills are cool, skills are needed, and skills pay! I’m excited to see so much attention being paid to the skilled trades right now” On being asked about being a female in the trades and a female welding instructor Kai said, “Girls have a place in the trades. I was motivated to show myself I could excel. I wanted to outwork everyone and I came to the welding shop from 8am to 4pm every day to develop my skills. Everyone can do what I did and I encourage you all to try”.

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.

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