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Alumni Story - Donna DuBois

Alumna Oregon Teacher of the Year

Donna DuBois, Education Leadership master’s program alumna and fourth-grade teacher at Camas Ridge Community School in Eugene, is Oregon's Teacher of the Year, 2009–10. The 12-year teaching veteran will be honored at a national forum in Washington, DC.

DuBois’ preparation for teaching began in Utah, where she studied elementary education, child development, and literacy. She earned her master’s degree in educational leadership at the University of Oregon.

Leadership and Research in Action

“My classes in educational leadership helped define how the teacher fits the professional leadership piece into an already demanding role of implementing classroom management and effective lessons,” said DuBois. “There is so much to do in every building and never enough of us to fully address the extra coordination and communication involved in the site council, advisory councils, and every curriculum area’s workgroup. All rely on teacher leaders. Master’s-level study in educational leadership truly prepared me for those roles.

“The unique aspect that UO put in focus for me was the action research piece. The teacher as a researcher is an extremely powerful heuristic. If you see yourself as the researcher, you are watching kids differently, studying the learning dynamic, reflecting on how to improve your own practice. Having an evidence base for fundamental instructional decisions is critical.”

Teachers and Students as Scientists

It’s not only the teacher who benefits from adopting the stance of researcher. At Camas Ridge, students and faculty members alike have become energized through the “Light it Forward” project DuBois created about sustainable resources, electricity, recycling, and scientific method.

The project started in spring 2009 when DuBois’ two third-grade classes began learning about electricity. They invited John Femal of Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) to present on the energy savings of using compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Students also wanted to educate citizens about proper disposal of CFL bulbs, which use 75 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Students learned that if every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a qualified CFL, energy saved would light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 800,000 cars (Energy Star, 2009).

“It had really been hitting home with me, the fact that a lot of my students are deeply concerned about the problems of the earth, about polar bears dying, about global warming. They can feel powerless in the face of problems adults are grappling with,” said DuBois. “I try to connect the way they take it to heart and their motivation to act, with concrete steps they can actually implement with the tools that science gives us.”

“It’s why I love being a teacher, to facilitate this growth. Teachers all over the state facilitate concerns just like those my students have expressed. It’s such a privilege to empower them to become deep thinkers, to ask good questions, and to take action.”

JOIN THE PROJECT!

Don’t be left out: Camas Ridge students are communicating with educational leaders and teachers in other states and would like to hear from you, too! See the Light it Forward project for more information.

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