Spotlight – Q & A
Where did you grow up? I was born in Fullerton, CA while my Dad attended optometry school. At the age of 8 years old, we moved to a small town called Logandale, NV, near the Utah border.
What schools did you attend? I graduated from Moapa Valley High School; I was a part of the first graduating class of over 100 students.
What did you do after high school? Right after high school, I worked for 2 years to save money. I was an assistant cook at the senior center, worked construction and cleaned up in a machine shop.
After working for 2 years what did you do? I went to the airport, looked at the flight departure board and randomly picked Marseille, France as my destination. I left from McCarron Airport in Las Vegas headed for France.
What was your plan once you arrived in France? I didn’t have a plan.
Did you make this trip with someone? No, all by myself.
What is the first thing you did upon arriving in France? I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport and missed my connecting flight. A German man noticed my confusion and helped me get a taxi to the train station, which got me on a train to Marseille.
What did you do upon arriving in Marseille? Marseille was big, loud, and a little overwhelming for me – I stayed for 2 days. I bought a bus ticket and when it stopped in a city I liked, I got off.
Did you work in France? No, I used my savings to experience the differences between small town life in France and my small town in Nevada.
How is France different from America? Definitely, the food is different. Transportation is different too. You could walk about anywhere you needed to go in the small towns I visited. When I got bored of a town, I jumped on a train and did the same thing in another town.
How long did this last? For 2 years.
What were some of the memorable experiences? My first Christmas away from home was in a small town called Aubagne. Aubagne is famous for nativity scenes – it was magical. During my time in Nice it snowed for the first time in 15 years – I was on the beach at the time.
One time, I was riding my bike in the middle of the country and didn’t even know where I was. I stopped, there was a wheat field on one side of me, a vineyard on the other side and the purple mountains (the Alps) in front of me and I realized – this is the song America the Beautiful. It was such an amazing moment I wrote a story and sent it to my local newspaper, who published it.
Did you learn to speak French? Yes, I taught French class in Clatskanie for a few years.
Upon arriving home, how much money did you have left? 44 cents.
Where did you go to college? When I got home, my parents had applied to college for me. In three days, I had to report to Brigham Young University (BYU). I was not excited about this at all.
What happened at BYU? After three semester’s my grades were poor, so I dropped out. I just did not try.
Did you work after attending college? I spent time doing all the jobs I ever wanted to do.
What sort of jobs did you do? I worked in a bookstore, delivered flowers, drove a limousine, worked at a summer camp in California. I was an extra in Hollywood movies. None of the jobs were careers I wanted. This lasted 2 years.
What next? I met a girl on a blind date and got married 12 months later. We have four kids now.
Did you go back to college? Yes, I restarted at Whatcom Community College then transferred to Western Washington University. From WWU I moved on to Willamette University and earned my Master’s in teaching.
During college did you work? Yes, I worked the gun counter at Joe’s Sporting Goods. I started teaching firearm/hunter safety and taught over one-thousand people in one year. It was during this time I realized teaching was my passion.
What did you learn from teaching hunter safety? I realized teaching kids in the 12-15-year-old age group was what I wanted to do.
Where was your first teaching job? In Winston, Oregon down by Roseburg.
When did you start teaching in the area? I taught for five years in Clatskanie, but wanted something closer to home (we live in Kelso) and ended up getting a job here at Cascade.
What are some traits of a great teacher? Know the subject really well and care enough to make sure nobody falls through the cracks. Everyone must learn the skills before moving on.
What is the best thing about being a teacher? Having a captive audience, if they are not laughing and having fun I am not doing my job. Learning grammar and sentence structure is not fun, so finding ways to make it fun helps students learn.
What is your outlook for the future? It’s positive. There are enough kids working very hard that society will be okay. There will always be kids who struggle, but many come from challenging family backgrounds who try so hard.
What advice would you have for new teachers? Keep it light, but data is your best friend. If you don’t have data telling you where the kids are it’s tough. Knowing what the kids did and did not learn is crucial to success.
What are some of the keys to being a good writer? Know your subject and don’t leave anything out.
What are the kids of today like? Kids of today are bombarded with society – they cannot escape it. It affects them negatively and positively, they need more time away from technology.
If you could talk to the entire community what would you say? I would tell the community to love your kids and spend as much time with them as you can. Cherish every moment possible with your kids.
What is the hardest part of teaching English? Grammar. This is the only place grammar matters. Kids ask why they can’t use the letter “u” to write the word “you”. Some kids don’t understand the importance of learning proper English.
Are good writing skills hard to come by? Absolutely. Being a good writer is tough, when I have student who is naturally gifted I want them to use it.
What else? I like things because they are unique. I love the sport of curling because it’s unique – curling is fascinating.
Spotlight – Q & A
Where did you grow up? I was born in Longview and raised in Toutle. My family on my father’s side lived in Toutle since the 1860’s. Some of the original homesteaders in the Toutle Valley are the Tippery’s, who are in my family tree. My grandmother on my Dad’s side was a Tippery. While my parents still live in Toutle, my family lives in Castle Rock now.
What high school did you attend? I graduated from Toutle High School – class of 1993. The Fighting Ducks!
Where did you go to college? From Toutle High School I enrolled at Lower Columbia College (LCC) then transferred and graduated from Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Ellensburg is great, but it’s not “here”.
How is school different now from when you grew up? The transient nature of students is significantly different from when I grew up. The Toutle High School class I graduated with had about 40 kids, most of whom went through K-12 together. You just don’t see that anymore.
Why the transient nature? It’s socioeconomics. People living in poverty, having difficulty finding steady work or a stable place to live.
Where were you on May 18, 1980 when Mt St Helen’s erupted? I was sitting in the dining room learning how to tie my shoes. One of my sisters was helping me get ready for church. The neighbor came over and told us the mountain blew. We were forced to move to Longview for about a month before coming back home.
What memories do you have of the eruption? I remember trying to process the idea that all the logging equipment on the mountain was just gone – vanished. I remember Spirit Lake before the eruption, everything is very different now.
When you left high school, did you want to be a teacher? Being a teacher was in the back of my mind. My parents did not push us into college; they wanted us to find our own way. I think Dad wanted me to be an engineer.
Did the eruption of Mt St Helens change your career path? The eruption changed the career path for many of us. By some estimates, the eruption blew away about 25 years’ worth of tree cutting. Cutting just wasn’t the same as it had been in the past, with much of the old growth timber gone, many people couldn’t make the same sort of living.
Do you have a family? Yes, I am married with two kids a girl and a boy. I met my wife Amanda at LCC in an English composition class.
What was college like? My advisor at LCC, Mike Dugaw, “chewed on me” one day for not being more dedicated to college. He promised a scholarship to LCC if I joined the debate team – which was a turning point in my life. I loved the debate team and solidified the idea of being a teacher.
What are some of the things Mr. Dugaw taught you? He never let us off the hook. Mr. Dugaw always had high expectations for us. Without Mike Dugaw, me staying in college was doubtful.
How did you pick Central Washington University? First, it was the least expensive state school and my sister Jennifer got her accounting degree there. In addition, I liked the town. For a kid from the country I fit in at CWU.
What are some of your college memories? I was accustomed to snow, but didn’t know much about cold weather. You learn “cold” in Ellensburg. I remember an old-timer helping me keep my engine block from freezing by suggesting I place a chicken lamp underneath the truck every night.
Why did you choose teaching middle school? There is a different feeling in middle school versus elementary or high school. The students bring such energy and enthusiasm – it’s great.
How has teaching social studies changed? Changing family dynamics impact teaching. Many of our kids are dealing with very tough socioeconomic issues, the hierarchy of needs. Compared to when I was in school it’s very different.
What do you do after work? I’m on the Castle Rock City Council, coach football, wrestling and track at Cascade and for the last 17 years I’ve been on the Castle Rock reserve police force.
What is the best thing about being a teacher? The best parts…there are so many. I would say the immediate gratification of a kid learning something and the relationship you build. Then ten years from now, you see an ex-student who’s now a molecular biologist or a sports journalist. It’s so cool to see the students later in life. The impact one person can make on a person’s life can be dramatic.
What are some of the keys to being a good teacher? Get help from other teachers. Dena Enyeart gave me some great material for a lesson on Alexander the Great.
When did you get to Cascade? In the fall of 2002, about 16 years ago. When I first came here I taught science for a while, but teaching history is my passion – my hobby. I read magazines like “Frontiersman Magazine”, I love history.
Are history and science related? Yes, history and science linked. Our country’s advances in medicine, advances in the military all relate back to science. Bringing multi-disciplinary sciences into the classroom to teach history is great. It makes the lessons so much more valuable.
What advice would you have for new teachers? Coming in as a new teacher would be extremely difficult. The biggest thing would be to try to find a way to balance helping kids while still challenging them. Letting them know you care about them as a person, but also as a student who needs to learn – it’s balancing relationship and rigor.
How has your experience in other aspects of life helped your teaching? It helps me understand where many kids are “coming from”. The life experience helps me understand how to help families better. When we talk about the Constitution in class my experience as a police officer and city council person really helps.
What else? I believe in public service and will do whatever I can to help my students be successful.
- Elementary schools – two hours earlier than regular release time
- Cascade – 11:45am release
- Monticello – 11:50am release
- Mt. Solo – 11:55am release
- High schools – 11:50am release
Students return back to school on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Students will be released one hour early on that day.
Broadway Learning Center has no school on Friday, Dec. 21. School resumes for Broadway students on Thursday, January 3, 2019.
Spotlight – Q & A
Where did you grow up? I was born in California and moved Longview at 2 years old. We moved here because my father got a new job at the Weyerhaeuser plant in Longview.
What schools did you attend? Growing up we lived in and around Longview, Kelso and Castle Rock. I attended Monticello Middle School and graduated from R.A. Long – class of 1984.
My memories of R.A. Long are great. Most young people want to move out of town. I graduated from high school then married my husband at the age of 18 and settled here – we’ve been married 34 years. Mrs. Trochim and her husband Phil have two adult girls.
Where did you go to college? WSU Vancouver – I’ll I ever wanted to be was a teacher. I was offered a job at Cascade Middle School before graduating from college and took the job. I’ve been at Cascade ever since, and this is my 15th year here.
What subject do you teach? I started out teaching English/Language Arts and still do – it’s my passion. I am also fortunate to work with kids in the WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) Leadership program.
What sort of leadership activities does WEB do? This week twenty-nine eighth grade student leaders walked up to Columbia Heights and played math games with first graders. Both the older and younger students loved the exercise. The event showed the older kids leadership and giving back to the community, while the younger kids learned math skills.
What do you do in your off time? My husband and I have three grand kids, who we love spending time with. I love to work in the yard, and our three dogs keep us busy. I enjoy reading both fiction and non-fiction as often as possible.
How has teaching English/Language Arts changed? We are really targeted with our approach. There is a lot of testing, which takes significant time, but the data helps us focus on what to teach. The sad part is I’ve seen so much more homelessness and poverty. There was not this high of a level of issues back when I started.
What is the best thing about being a teacher? There’s so many things – but it’s the kids! Teaching them something they didn’t know – the love of reading and writing.
What are some of the keys to being a good teacher? Do something you are passionate about. If you’re passionate about being a teacher it’s great. You give your life to teaching, so hopefully it is enjoyable. Having been at Cascade fifteen years it feels like family. There’s been a lot of hope at Cascade since Mr. Rugg became the principal. He cares about kids.
How long have you worked in the district? 15 years – all at Cascade.
What advice would you have for new teachers? Don’t be too hard on yourself. I still learn a lot from my students, they’ll sometimes see something I didn’t catch. Keep it simple in the beginning. I coached volleyball for years and it’s hard to teach school, coach and get everything done – don’t take on too much.
How has teaching changed? Teaching is getting harder and harder because I want to do better and better.
What would you tell the community about what life is like in school? Because of social media I wouldn’t want to go back and be a middle school student again – social media has changed things. There’s a lot of goodness. The kids are great, but we need to find ways to help parents with mental health support, food, clothing and shelter. If we can educate a child nobody can take that away. It’s not a student’s fault they come from a difficult family situation. Education is the answer, it’s the way out.
How are students different from perceptions created by the media? Today’s students are more “worldly” than students of the past due to the Internet. The maturity of sixth graders versus eighth graders is pretty significant, so it depends on the grade your teaching.
What else? I care about kids and try do my best every day.
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Cascade Middle School will be putting on a Food and Clothing Drive starting Monday, December 10th through Thursday, December 20th. This is to help support our local families in need this holiday season. Please consider donating food and warm clothing items to help Outreach provide meals and clothing for local area students throughout their winter break from school.
To get a better idea of some suggested items for donation, please click the link below.
-Cascade Middle School
- Today, December 3rd, is National Roof over Your Head Day.
- Lunch today is popcorn chicken served with baked potato gems and steamed broccoli.
- Have you ever made a super cool gift for a friend or family member? Cascade Middle School is having a crafting party on Dec 8th from 10am to 12. Bring your friends and family and come have a blast with us as we all build and create holiday centerpieces. Everything is free, including the cocoa and cookies. Sign up in the front office. Hurry because there are only 24 seats left, and they will go fast.
- All 6th and 7th grade students need to turn their OMSI field trip permission slip forms in to their first period teachers ASAP. Payments for the trip also need to be turned in ASAP and should be brought to the office.
- Reminder to students: when you are at lunch, food needs to remain in the cafeteria. No food should be brought outside. In addition, when you leave the cafeteria and go to the courtyard you should not re-enter the building without permission from a staff member. No students should be wandering the halls at lunch.
- Wrestlers: You have a home meet today. Do not wait until after school to call home if you have forgotten anything you need. Take care of that during lunch! Also make sure that your ride knows that you will not be dismissed after the tournament until ALL items have been stored. Sincerely, Your Wrestling Coaches.
We’re proud of our educators and are taking this opportunity to introduce you to two of them, in their own words. They have different interests but share a passion for preparing Longview students for successful futures!
This is a supplement to the Longview Public Schools annual report. Both Gail Wells and Sam Kell are featured in the printed version of the annual report.
Gail Wells, math teacher, Monticello Middle School.
Gail Wells believes everyone can do math. She works the room and uses technology to gauge how much each student understands, even those who never raise their hands.
Where did you grow up and go to school? I was born in North Dakota and grew up in Federal Way, Washington. I was in the first graduating class at Thomas Jefferson High School in Auburn and went to Western Washington University for a degree in home economics.
How did you get from home economics to math? My passion was food and nutrition, but math is completely entrenched in home economics—measuring food, finance, sewing …
Why do people think math is so hard? Society doesn’t allow people not to be “readers,” but for some reason it’s OK to not be good at math. The mindset should be that “I can do it,” because everyone can.
How long have you been teaching? Twenty-six or 27 years—10 years at St. Helens and 10 years at Robert Gray, with four years as a math coach at Kessler and Robert Gray. Now I’m finishing at Monticello Middle School.
How has teaching math changed? When I was in school, it was, “Here is how you do it. Now copy what I do.” We don’t do that anymore. Instead of just handing students an algorithm or a way to do something, we do a lot of concrete building of understanding before moving to the abstract.
What is the best thing about being a teacher? That look on a student’s face when they “get it”—it’s priceless.
What are some of the keys to being a good teacher? Number one is understanding what the goal is. For me it’s the state standards—I have to know what the students need to know. Also …
- Making sure the students get the needed feedback so they can self-evaluate.
- Being ready when they walk through the door—knowing where you’re going and how to get there, not just turning the page on the book and teaching them what’s on the next page.
- Adjusting if the students are not getting it.
The big thing here at Monticello is I have an amazing teaching partner, Phil Hartley. We collaborate, do assessments, reflect on student work, talk about the goals and are transparent about our work. Today we are going to share kids and do some interventions, so we can get them where they need to be right now.
To be a good teacher, it’s everything, including a great administration that supports you. It’s not just one thing.
What advice do you have for new teachers? Don’t think you already know everything. I’ve been teaching for 26 or 27 years, and every year I learn something new. Every year I get better. So listen to your colleagues, listen to your students, and be willing to adapt. Be a part of the team.
What’s something people might not know about you? I’ve been making gingerbread houses for 30 years. I have two sons who were in the armed service—one still is. I send gingerbread houses to Afghanistan and Bosnia. My daughter taught English in South Korea, so I sent one to her.
What would you tell the community about what life is like in school? When those kids come up the stairs and say hi to me, it’s wonderful. It’s the best place in the world to work.
What are students like today? Students are considerate of each other. They want to do their best—they want to succeed.
Anything else? This is my last year of teaching. I want to have more time with my family and visit my grandchildren—I have six. My career as a teacher has been an amazing journey. I feel deeply blessed by every student I’ve ever had.
Sam Kell, industrial arts teacher, Mark Morris High School
Sam Kell practices what he teaches. At school, he introduces pre-apprenticeship students (pg. 3) to technical skills like carpentry. In his spare time, he works on his own fixer-upper house.
Where did you grow up and go to school? I spent my childhood in Kelso and Longview, and went to Catlin Elementary, Columbia Heights Elementary, Cascade Middle School and Mark Morris High School. I spent one year at Lower Columbia College and finished my final three years at Central Washington University in the industrial arts program.
Why did you get into teaching? I always liked working with people and going through the learning process. My mom is a pre-school teacher.
Who introduced you to industrial arts? My dad is a self-employed residential contractor. He flips houses and owns rentals. I started working with my dad when I was 10 or 11 years old. I was just a helping hand with sheetrock and roofs. In school I excelled in shop classes and was happiest in project-based learning.
What’s the best part about being a teacher? Building relationships with the students. Teaching is all about the relationships and the growth.
What are the students of today like? They are hard-working and task driven. People may assume students never get off their smartphone or think, “It’s not like when we were in school.” But I still see the drive in students to get things done. Sometimes it takes different teaching styles to motivate different students.
What is one thing you want to teach every student? One thing I’d like to teach every student is lifelong learning and self-evaluation. To be able to reflect on the job you just completed is a very important skill no matter what you do. I learned a long time ago, “reflect and do better.”
What would you like people to know about school? School is about learning, and failure is okay.
Do you have hobbies? I love hunting, fishing and hiking, and I share season tickets to the Trailblazers. I’ve been a Blazers fan since elementary school. I watched Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler play. I also own a house in Kelso—it’s a fixer upper.
Anything else? It’s important for young people in our community to recognize their own skills and recognize what Longview has to offer. Longview is a great place.