Oregon’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, Heather (Logan) Anderson (MAT01), has been celebrated by her school, her city, the state and even by President Obama at a ceremony in the White House this May.
However, she says those honors aren’t the most significant part of her teaching career since graduating from George Fox. "My greatest accomplishment in education is empowering children to become thriving lifelong learners," she says.
She’s empowering those learners in her hometown of Bend, Ore., at Juniper Elementary School, where she has taught fourth grade since 2012. A surprise assembly in October broke the top teacher news to Anderson, who was acclaimed for her leadership, high expectations and commitment to students.
She immediately taped a 30-second commercial celebrating her honor that ran for a month on Oregon television stations. She also received a $5,000 award, which Anderson plans to invest in education – putting it in a college fund for her two children.
After earning her undergraduate degree from Oregon State University in 2000, Anderson headed for Newberg to enroll in the George Fox Master of Arts in Teaching program, an intensive nine-month program, turning down a full-ride scholarship at OSU. Why George Fox? "I really liked the small class sizes and the feel of the cohort experience," she says. "I felt very well prepared with my MAT."
After her marriage that next summer, she and her husband headed east so he could attend Georgetown University. She taught fifth-graders in Maryland at a struggling high-poverty elementary school, working with other educators to close achievement gaps and improve student outcomes. These early formative experiences, the state noted in its award, helped shape her into an educator who firmly believes all students – regardless of income, race or language – can and will succeed if given the support to do so. Anderson was also cited for building "a positive environment in her classroom that fosters student confidence, exploration and risk-taking."
In addition to working with students, Anderson, who earned National Board Certification in 2005, serves as a coach and teacher to her colleagues. She guides a monthly two-hour class collaborating with other teachers to improve their impact on students. Together they helped Juniper Elementary earn recognition as a Model School – a designation that puts it in the top 5 percent of high-poverty schools statewide in student achievement.
"Heather is an outstanding example of excellence in the profession," says Salam Noor, Oregon deputy superintendent of public instruction. "Not only does she set high expectations for her students and herself, she is deeply committed to helping other educators learn and grow."