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October 2021 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from the Director of the Oregon Department of Education, Colt Gill

ODE Director Colt Gill 

Participating in the Oregon Teacher of the Year process is something I look forward to every year. It’s an important and fun program shining a spotlight on the critical work accomplished in classrooms around the state.

Take a moment to read the story about Clackamas High School teacher Ethelyn Tumalad, the 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year, announced just last month. She carries on the tradition of extraordinary Oregon Teachers of the Year!

Ethelyn is one of many Oregon educators recently recognized for their work.

The Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) recognized ODE Deputy Director Carmen Xiomara Urbina with the National Latina Advocate of the Year award last week.

It’s a well-deserved honor as her equity-centered leadership at ODE empowers us to help each and every student in the state for decades to come. ALAS also recognized two other Oregon education officials at their Annual Summit: Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero was named National Superintendent of the Year and Teacher Standards and Practices Commission executive director Anthony Rosilez was named National Latino Teacher and Administrator Advocate of the Year.

Celebrating excellence is critical. It spotlights best practices and raises awareness of important issues that may otherwise be overlooked.

Celebrating excellence doesn’t require a formal ceremony or award. Taking a few minutes to let a coworker know their work is recognized and valued is an important way to celebrate excellence. It’s just as important to recognize when we’re advancing as it is to point out issues that need addressing. We can still fix problems while acknowledging the progress we’re making.

One last note on highlighting team members’ good work.

Nominations are open for Oregon Education Support Professional of the Year. This award is now in its second year and we’d love to build on last year’s momentum and name a successor to Paula Steinwig of Jewell. If your school has someone special who provides exemplary support for Oregon’s students, let us know who they are!

Ethelyn Tumalad Named 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year

In a surprise announcement on September 29, during an early morning staff meeting, Clackamas High School (CHS) educator Ethelyn Tumalad was named and celebrated as Oregon’s 2022 Teacher of the Year! Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill and Deputy Director Carmen Xiomara Urbina virtually joined North Clackamas School District Superintendent Shay James and Clackamas High School Assistant Principal Alyssa Engle in honoring Tumalad as an exemplary educator, student advocate and equity champion.

A video message from Governor Kate Brown was played during the announcement event, offering personalized congratulations and gratitude to Tumalad. “Inside and outside of the classroom, Ethelyn is a strong advocate, a wonderful listener and an empathetic colleague, teacher and friend,” she stated in the video. “Educators like you are the shining stars our students need.”

Ethelyn Tumalad is a first-generation immigrant who came to the Pacific Northwest from the Philippines with her family at the age of five. In her role as a Language Arts and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher, she leans into her identity as a Filipino woman and immigrant to support students in finding their own voices, recognizing the beauty of their diversity and being unapologetically themselves. Every student in Ms. Tumalad’s classroom learns to respect one another and see the strengths in each other’s differences. Tumalad serves as advisor for the CHS Asian Pacific Islander (API) Student Union and co-leads the CHS Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) staff affinity group. She also leads in district affinity groups, as well as other state equity efforts.

“While I am an educator in the classroom and my content area is ELA and AVID, my identity as an API educator and educator of color grounds me in my work,” Tumalad said in her application. “I’ve seen the importance of having positive role models of color; therefore, it is important that students themselves see their advisors work together to build bridges among each other’s marginalized identities. As an educator who always wants to ensure that students become change agents in the classroom, I lead my students with empathy and truly believe that modeling is the best form of education.”

The Oregon Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education in partnership with the Oregon Lottery. Tumalad was celebrated as a Regional Teacher of the Year in May, and receives a $5,000 cash award as 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year. A matching $5,000 is also awarded to Clackamas High School.

As the 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year, Tumalad will serve as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers. She will also receive year-long professional development and networking with other state Teachers of the Year through the Chief Council of State School Officer’s (CCSSO) National Teacher of the Year program.

Do you know an outstanding teacher? Please nominate them for 2023 Oregon Teacher of the Year by visiting

Oregon Announces Stabilization Grant Opportunity to Assist Child Care Providers

Child care providers in Oregon are invited to apply for child care stabilization grants through the Early Learning Division (ELD). Oregon received approximately $224 million in grant funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to be paid directly to eligible providers struggling during COVID-19.

“Child care providers have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, continuing to care for children while navigating uncertainty about the virus and facing challenges in hiring and retaining staff,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “We hope these funds will provide some much needed relief to offset increased expenses, but we know this doesn’t go far enough. Congress must continue to provide the resources needed to sustain our child care system so providers can continue offering quality care to Oregon families.”

Funding will be available to a broad range of providers, including licensed family child care, center-based care, and license-exempt providers receiving child care subsidies. To be eligible for these funds, providers must be currently open and operating. The funding cannot be used to start a new program. To be considered for the grant, providers must complete an application on ELD’s website by December 31, 2021. Award amounts will vary based on provider type and other criteria.

Child care providers may use the grants to cover a range of expenses such as personnel costs, rent or mortgage payments, COVID-related supplies, training and professional development related to health and safety practices, mental health supports, and reimbursement of costs associated with the current public health emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions are posted to ELD’s website. Providers can also contact ELD at or 971-707-2029 (Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) with questions.

A Parade Down Memory Lane: Oregon State Representative Shares Head Start Story

The Early Learning Division talked with a state lawmaker about his experience in Head Start as a child as part of National Head Start Awareness Month:

Oregon Rep. Mark Meek has happy memories of being in a local parade when he was a four-year-old Head Start student in Roseville, Calif. While the legislator, who represents parts of Clackamas County, doesn’t remember the reason for the parade, the stability of school was significant for him. Meek’s father had returned home from serving in the military and was working as a truck driver. His family of five, which included a younger and older brother, was facing challenges. “We all got to sit on the float and wave for the parade goers,” he said. “It was an amazing experience… I remember a lot of the parents volunteering to decorate the float (pulled by my uncle’s truck) and how excited we all were to be part of this community event.”

“My mom and dad started dealing with the effects of PTSD,” he said. “There were times when my dad wouldn’t be home.”

Launched in 1965, the Head Start model was designed to support families facing difficult circumstances and reduce obstacles to learning in the early years. Today, Head Start continues to provide health, nutrition, and school readiness to families. Knowing he had a meal to depend on at school was reassuring for Meek.

“There were times during the month we didn’t have milk or cereal,” he said. “Over the weekends were really tough.”

Meek’s parents later divorced. This event sparked a series of moves and further threatened Meek’s stability as a young child. Meek said he lived in three states, 12 different cities and attended 18 different schools “that I can remember” between kindergarten and fifth grade.

Researchers suggest the social-emotional development cultivated by Head Start may have long-term impacts and health benefits for children, ranging from decreased child mortality to adult health behaviors.

“If I hadn’t had that background and early exposure, I would have struggled much more,” said Meek. “This experience was life changing,” said Meek. “Over the years, as I reflect on the wonderful learning experiences I had, Head Start was the foundation for all my other learning opportunities.”

ODE In the News

ODE’s Care & Connection campaign continues to earn coverage on the importance of mental health and how schools can help. Here are some of the recent reports:

ODE Director Colt Gill appeared on OPB’s Think Out Loud program with OHA Director Pat Allen to talk about the COVID-19 guidance in schools.

The Teacher of the Year announcement always generates a lot of stories, too many to fit here. But two that stand out are her appearance on OPB’s Think Out Loud program and an official statement from the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco congratulating her on her award.

The Corvallis Gazette-Times highlighted a transportation center being built by Greater Albany Public Schools with federal dollars that come through ODE.

Nominations Are Open to Honor Education Support Professionals


Nominations are open to recognize the outstanding contributions of Oregon’s Education Support Professionals (ESP)! ESP’s work together with teachers and administrators in Oregon public schools to perform a variety of jobs promoting quality education, fostering positive learning environments, offering nutritious meals, providing reliable transportation, maintaining safe and clean schools for all students and much more. Oregon’s 2021 winner, Paula Steinweg, was honored during a surprise announcement in May.

Nominations for the 2022 Oregon Education Support Professional of the Year are open now through early January, 2022. The winner will be surprised with a special announcement in April 2022. Educators nominated for Education Support Professional of the Year must be currently employed by an Oregon public prekindergarten program or K-12 school or school district and meet the definition of an ESP in Oregon.

Thanks to the Oregon Department of Education’s partnership with the Oregon Lottery, the Oregon Education Support Professional of the Year will receive a gift award of $5,000. They will also receive a plaque and banner to commemorate this significant achievement.

Additional information can be found on the Oregon Education Support Professional of the Year webpage. Nominate an outstanding ESP today!

Celebrate International Pronoun Day with ODE!

October 20 is International Pronoun Day and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is celebrating by sharing learning opportunities about using gender-affirming pronouns and best practices for communications. Pronouns are a public part of speech, commonly used to refer to someone in the third person, for example ‘she’, ‘they’, or ‘him.’ We can’t know someone’s pronouns based on their appearance, or gender expression.

Pronoun sharing within the workplace and throughout school communities is an important opportunity to build trust and connection with transgender, non-binary, two-spirit colleagues, students, friends, and community members. When we do this, we model listening and following the leadership of groups who are fighting oppression. This practice came from people of color in non-binary and trans communities, who recognized that using correct pronouns can deeply impact the safety and well-being of gender-diverse people. When we collectively share our names and pronouns, we can share the burden of fighting against injustice, and we can show others’ they will be supported in coming out or “letting you in.”

GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey reported that 22.8% of students were prevented from using chosen names/pronouns. Using correct names and pronouns is an important part of increasing safety, connection, and belonging, for trans, non-binary, and two-spirit students. ODE recognizes the need to expand this effort within the agency.

Affirming pronoun use is aligned with ODE’s equity stance and is made all the more meaningful when we commit agency- and community-wide to put these words into practice. As the 5th graders of Randall Elementary School remind us, Words Matter.

Tips for Pronoun Sharing

  • If you are comfortable, share your pronouns when you’re introducing yourself at the start of a meeting
    • “I’m (Name) and I use she and they pronouns”
  • Do not require or pressure employees or students who do not voluntarily share their pronouns to share their pronouns. Some employees or students may not feel safe or are not ready to “come out” to their coworkers or to other students or may be choosing to not share in support of another coworker or student who is not ready to “come-out.”
  • Change your Zoom name to include your pronouns, every time
    • Name, (she/they), ODE
  • Include pronouns in your ODE email signature and possibly link to resources.
  • Notice, practice, and use others’ correct and affirming pronouns when they are generous enough to share these with you.

Tips for Gender Inclusive Language

  • We don’t say “preferred” pronouns because pronouns are a significant part of who a person is, and not just a preference (an example of preference is an ice cream flavor).
  • Practice, practice, practice! Use gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” and “ze” while visualizing the person who uses them. This is especially useful to do right before you’re about to see the person.
  • When addressing groups of people or people whose pronouns you haven’t been told, use gender-neutral language such as, “siblings,” “third graders,” “students”, “everyone,” “folks,” “all,” or “y’all,” rather than “brothers and sisters,” “boys and girls,” “guys,” “ladies,” “ma’am,” or “sir.” This includes internal and external-facing communication from ODE.
  • Use descriptive language if you do not know a person’s gender, pronouns, or name. e.g. Can you give this paper to the person across the room with the white t-shirt and short brown hair?
  • Consider ways in which multilingual communities can access gender neutrality and affirmation in languages of origin.

Tips for How to “Fail” Well

Supporting trans, non-binary and two-spirit colleagues and communities is not about getting it right 100% of the time, it’s about commitment to growth and acknowledging the harmful impact of our words sometimes do have. Here are a few tips for how to react when you “get it wrong” along the way:

  • Listen and Notice when new name or pronouns are shared with you or when a system-impacted person lets you know you’ve caused harm.
  • Gently correct others’ when someone who is not present is mis-gendered with the wrong name or pronouns.
  • If someone corrects your pronoun usage: thank them, insert the correct pronoun, and move on. Do not apologize profusely or ask the person you’ve harmed to tend to your emotional needs in that moment.
  • Apologize or check-in offline to show support, and then be sure to practice and reduce your incorrect pronoun use in the future.
  • Most importantly, take what you’ve learned and use it to fuel greater humility, learning, listening, growth, self-educating, action, advocacy.

Sources & Resources

Photo by Katie Rainbow 🏳️🌈 on Unsplash

Survey Deadline Approaching

To learn more about the successes and challenges of the Tribal History/Shared History initiative, the Oregon Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education has contracted with Marzano Research to administer a survey to public school teachers and selected administrators this month. The survey is gathering information about the implementation of the initiative. Input will help the Office of Indian Education identify areas of success and areas where additional support may be needed.

If you are a teacher or public school administrator and have not yet had the chance to complete the survey, please respond to your email invitation from Marzano Research to participate in this short, confidential survey. The survey deadline is October 22!

Bilingual Open Educational Resource Grant Opportunity

Are you an Oregon secondary teacher who has experience working with students who are emergent bilingual? The Oregon Open Learning team invites you to apply individually or as a part of a team to participate in a new grant opportunity for the 2021-22 school year focused on developing open educational resources (OER) to support students who are emergent bilingual. Grant award: $5,000. More information and the grant application can be found on ODE’s OER Grant & Professional Learning Opportunities webpage.

Student Spotlight