Category Archives: People who have taught me

Number 99 – Echo Hall

Echo is one of the best people I have ever met in my life.  For reals.  She is the funnest, funniest, prettiest, sassiest lady there is.  Echo plays a lead role in most of my favorite memories from 1998- 2004.  Summer nights with Echo were full of possibilities and usually led to mischief of the best kind.  There were nights in parking lots, running around with a beach towel as my cape, there were nights dressed in black, stalking other friends’ parties, nights driving around town blasting Dave Matthews Band in my little Ford Escort, nights waiting for phone calls or something amazing to happen at Allann Bros., swinging at playgrounds, dancing anywhere and more fun than I could even begin to describe.

Echo and I haven’t seen each other much in the past few years, but whenever we do, I feel like we can pick up right where we left off.  That’s a sign of a true, incredible, lasting friendship if you ask me.


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Number 94 – Val King

During grad school I had quite a few instructors.  I took more classes than anyone else in my program (in addition to getting my Language Arts endorsement, I also got my ESL endorsement and a Cultural Competency Certificate… I think I ended up with almost twice the credits as my classmates) so I had the benefit of learning from additional talented teachers and professors.  One of my absolute favorites was Val.  While I learned a lot of things about education in most of my classes, I learned how to teach from Val.  She had such a wonderful classroom presence and taught us in a very organic, hands on way.  When she taught about a method, she actually used the method.  This was a great strategy because we got to see how these ideas worked as students.  This makes it so much easier to translate these ideas now, as teachers.

While Val was an incredible teacher, she was also a very lovely person. I would love to have the chance to work for her someday as she is also a principal in Springfield.  I’m sure she runs a successful, respectful and fun school.

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Number 81 – Taylor Mali

I think I should watch this every. single. day. If every teacher in America felt as strongly about how to teach as Taylor Mali, our future would be so bright.  That’s all I can say.

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Number 79 – Chet Olcott

Chet, Dad and Me in Newport

If you were to ask who my hero is I would answer, My Uncle Chet.  What can I say about Chet?  Where do I start?  Chet was my Granny’s cousin.  They grew up together in Northwest Portland about 2 blocks from each other.

I remember vague stories of the neighborhood gang playing together in the olden days.  Chet always is the mischievous bad influence in those stories.

Chet was always a huge sports fan.  Chet played football for Stanford and even played in the Rose Bowl.  When I was little I would love when he and Aunt Helen would come over from the beach to go to an Oregon football game or track meet.  I have very strong, clear memories of Chet sitting in the stands at Hayward Field with a huge grin on his face, eating potato chips.

Chet (3rd from left)

Before World War II Chet went to officer’s training school for the Navy and was sent to Wake Island.  On Christmas Eve, 1941, Japanese troops took over the island and took Chet as a Prisoner of War.  He spent the remainder of the war in various POW camps in Japan.  Just think about that… he was a prisoner from December 1981 until September 1945.  Chet never really spoke of his experiences in the camps, but after he died we found journals, letters, artwork and other remembrances of his time as a prisoner.  I had always looked up to Chet, but reading his journal solidified his place as my hero.

After the war, he met and married my Granny’s sister-in-law, Helen McHugh (Granny married my grandfather, Frank McHugh during the war).  They lived together with an unbelievable view of the ocean for the rest of their lives.  Helen and Chet were a third set of grandparents to me.  I learned so much from them:  never to trust a guarantee, to enjoy and celebrate nature, The Lord’s Prayer, how to have a sense of humor, how to fly a kite and so much more.

I loved my Uncle Chet dearly and still think of him often and miss him at track meets, when I see a fishing net and whenever I see the ocean.

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Number 78 – Kal Barteski & LoveLife

Kal Barteski’s blog was one of the very first I followed.  I found it by way of Katrina while I was still in Peace Corps.  Kal is an artist, a creative spirit and an amazingly positive person.  Her mantra of having a bullet-proof positive attitude has gotten me through a lot of tough times.  I often forget the notion, but am always happy to be reminded when her blog comes up on my Google Reader.

Reading Kal’s blog reminds me of my love of creating and all things artistic.  Her art projects are beautiful and beautifully inspiring.  She writes with a quick sense of humor and humility.

I have to admit that reading a blog written by someone I have never met (and probably never will) seems sort of odd at times.  Sometimes Katrina and I will say things like, “Did you see Kal’s pregnant?  So exciting!”  or “Did you see Kal’s new project?” as though she is a close friend of ours.  I suppose that’s the age that we’re in… and I should celebrate the fact that I get to have some sort of relationship with people like Kal.

Kal’s doing a new project starting this week called ‘Nurture Your Creativity + Be Bulletproof.’ It’s an online class that teaches how to be both creative and bulletproof.  I would love to do this, but haven’t signed up yet.  I need to ask Jesse if it can be an early Anniversary or Christmas present…

We need more people like Kal on our little Earth and I’m so glad she’s reaching out to teach others how to live life with a greater amount of creativity and positivity!

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Number 75 – Beatriz Loper

Beatriz was one of my instructors at Pacific.  In addition to getting my Masters of Arts in Teaching and endorsements in Language Arts and Social Studies, I decided to jump in with both feet and also get my ESL endorsement and a Cultural Competency Certificate.  Most people don’t do this.  This caused problems.  I ended up taking classes that basically repeated other classes I had taken.  This angered me because it was my time and money and energy and all that.

My last class for ESL was a cultural competency class with Beatriz.  It was on Saturdays.  All day on Saturdays.  After the first class, I was so frustrated when I heard what all the projects and assignments would be.  I had literally done them all before.  Literally.  I talked to everyone at Pacific to see if I could be excused or ‘test out’ of the class.  The response was that no, I couldn’t and it wasn’t their intention for anyone to do all three endorsements at once, so they weren’t prepared for my situation.  I didn’t think this was fair because no one really mentioned that to me as I was filling out the forms (and sending in the tuition checks).  After some grumbling and decisions, I decided to just stay in the class and finish it all up.

And I am so glad that I did.  Beatriz was one of the best instructors I had, and one of the most lovely people I have met.  She is such a wonderfully caring woman.  She was warm and patient with our discussions.  It was very clear that she cared for us as students and as future teachers.  It was also clear that she cared for our future students.  In the end, I think I almost enjoyed spending my Autumn Saturdays in class with Beatriz.  She even came to our graduation ceremony in December, and seeing her there meant so much to me.

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Number 69 – David Biespiel

David Biespiel taught my advanced poetry writing class at OSU (check out his very own wordpress blog).  This was one of my very favorite classes.  He was one of my very favorite professors.  It was another small writing workshop class.  I’d never really thought of myself as an especially gifted poet, but during David’s class I feel like that’s what I became.  I wrote so much poetry that term that I couldn’t have considered myself anything other than a poet.  I think the greatest thing he did for me and for my class was encourage (or was it require) us to have a public poetry reading.  He rented out the Corvallis Arts Center and we gave a real-life poetry reading.  Looking back I realize how beautifully important that really was.

David is an extremely gifted poet and a wonderfully inspiring teacher.  I was lucky to have be taught by someone like him.

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