By Doug Beardsley, Biology Teacher | Hood River Valley High School
On May 24, 2016, OnPoint Community Credit Union announced that Doug Beardsley of Reynolds High School was named 2016 OnPoint Prize Educator of the Year for grades 9-12. As an Educator of the Year recipient, OnPoint paid Beardsley’s mortgage for one school year and donated $2,500 to Reynolds, located in Troutdale, Oregon, to use for resources and supplies. Beardsley, a Biology teacher, was recognized not only for his challenging and engaging curriculum, impacting students for years after they leave his classroom but for inspiring his students as Senior Class Advisor and for developing curriculum for the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program.
Now, nearly one year since Beardsley won the 2016 Educator of the Year award, we’ve checked back in with him to find out how life has changed and what is currently keeping him busy.
Q. What was it like to win the 2016 OnPoint Prize Educator of the Year award for grades 9-12?
A. This was an awesome award for my students, my colleagues and me. For many teachers, this is not just an occupation, but also a lifestyle choice. Our job doesn’t end when the final bus leaves. We bring home our students’ work, continually re-tool our lessons, and many times shoulder the unbelievable burdens of our students. Dinnertime conversations celebrate our student successes of the day or commiserate the additional challenges our marginalized students have in accessing educational opportunities. In the morning, we return to our classrooms with optimism in the public education system. Not because it is well-funded or equal, but because of the professionalism of our teachers and the hopefulness of our students.
This award gives credibility to the work I’ve done to bring high level thinking to my science classes and educational opportunities to my AVID students. Through work done by our Reynolds High School AVID team, we were able to identify the barriers of higher education to our marginalized students. The barriers were many: poverty, abuse, language, and immigration status to name a few. What these students have, though, is resilience, determination, and grit. Simply put, they want to change their lives for the better through the educational process. I realized that if I was going to ask these students to do extra work that I, too, would need to go above and beyond for them. When students put their trust in a teacher….we must ALWAYS deliver.
The day I found out I had won the OnPoint Educator of the Year, my students found out that they had all been accepted to a 4-year university with a total of 2.1 million dollars in grants and scholarships to fund their college dreams. Their accomplishments, and this award, reinforced our classroom mantra that hard work and dedication to a cause pays off.
Q. Having your mortgage paid for a school year is a significant prize. How has winning this award impacted your life?
A. This award has allowed my family the opportunity to make some pretty amazing choices. I was able to move school locations and to expand the AVID program to Hood River as the new teacher and coordinator. My wife and I have also started a new business with a unique philosophy for supporting current and past students. It provides opportunities for them to showcase their amazing abilities. It might be working behind a welding torch, a laser engraver, or a screen filled with html script for a website. Our nation is in good hands if we allow these students to reach their full potential.
Q. In addition to your award, Reynolds High School received a $2,500 donation for classroom resources and supplies. How has the school used this donation?
A. Reynolds High School utilized this donation in a multitude of ways. Some of the money was placed in the AVID scholarship account. We also have been able to fund a school-wide Mock Interview Day where business leaders coach our students while they practice their communication skills. Afterwards, these community members meet with our seniors for a Career Readiness Luncheon.
Q. Do you have any advice for teachers that are interested in applying for the OnPoint Prize?
A. If you’re a student, parent, or colleague who has been influenced by an exceptional teacher, please consider nominating them for this prize. As teachers, the work we do is often unnoticed by the greater community we are serving. Financial awards recognizing educational excellence are few and far between. My biggest advice is…if you know of a teacher that is truly changing the lives of children in your community, nominate them. It will give them recognition, but also a platform with which to voice their enriching methods and novel ideas. When a local business like OnPoint recognizes the value of teachers, it shows their commitment to our local students. Both educators and OnPoint believe in serving our community.
Q. What really stood out about your application is the great work you do every day to encourage and support your students. Is there anything else you want to tell us about that you’re working on right now?
A. I’m excited about my current work with the Hood River County School District. Hood River has a unique population that can benefit from a program like AVID. It is hard and rewarding work to teach college readiness skills and academic leadership to students who have historically been under-represented in college.
To learn more about the 2017 OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education campaign, click here.
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