2021 CODE Teacher Leaders

Employees  /  News

David Douglas School District launched the Cadre of Distinguished Educators (CODE) in 2014. The program offers educators from every building and program the opportunity to engage in leadership in a variety of formats and structures. The CODE group of educators seek to elevate the practice of teaching and learning in our District. Their mission is to celebrate and recognize teacher leaders who make significant contributions to the growth of their students, inspire fellow educators and effectively support the district mission.

Each year, teachers are asked to nominate the best of the best from their peers. Then a select few are named Teacher Leaders and recognized for their excellence.

This year twenty-three teachers from across the district were nominated. Nine nominees were from the secondary level, ten from elementary and four from early childhood.

From this group nine educators were selected as outstanding nominees. These individuals are listed below.

2021 CODE Teacher Leaders

Amparo Ochoa – Special Education Teacher at Lincoln Park

What colleagues have to say…

“Amparo has so many balls in the air and yet remains calm and organized. (I could never.) She creates and teaches high quality SDI while juggling IEPs, behavior plans, translations, scheduling and supporting IAs and handling the day-to-day minutiae of a busy ERC with grace. On top of that, her relationships with students are strong, supportive and elicit student strengths.

“Amparo works tirelessly as an advocate for her students. She records individualized lessons, creates interactive slide shows and supports the work of all of the teachers in our building. She is available for students and families whenever they need her help and she maintains meticulous records.”

“Amparo is an amazing support and advocate for her students and they know it and trust her for it. She builds strong relationships with her kiddos and their families. Her students know that they have an adult in the building on their side and this support helps them to make growth towards academic and social/emotional goals.”

“Amparo has moved our ERC program away from more outdated modes of providing SDI and towards more inclusive, universally designed practises that benefit all students, not just those on her caseload. She is always interested in pushing in, co-teaching, helping students thrive in gen ed environments. (and is a great person to co-teach with!) During CDL, Amparo has worked hard to make digital learning spaces accessible and engaging for her caseload, ensuring that students have the supports they need. She has also made sure that her IAs have the technical professional development to move from in-person to virtual education. Amparo’s organization is a strength that sometimes falls below the radar of her rapport with students and collaboration with teachers, but it is an asset she brings to the behind the scenes work of committees, teams and various SPED processes. Last but not least, Amparo’s role as a leader and teacher in our school is an inspiration and comfort to many of our Latinx students and families.”

“She provides culturally responsive, highly effective instruction, engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, establishes high standards and expectations, delivers student-centered actions, develops students socially, emotionally and academically, ensures safe learning environments, collaborates with families and community partners, contributes positively to our diverse society, cultivates skills necessary for lifelong learning, empowers students to advocate for themselves, uses district resources responsibly.”

“Aside from her general excellence and distinguishment as an educator, Amparo is also an amazing PERSON, someone I am grateful to have as a colleague!”

Joel Jahnke – 3rd Grade Teacher at Mill Park

What colleagues have to say…

“Joel is the quintessential “warm demander.” He sets high expectations for all students, and ALL of them participate. During CDL, he adapted to the new model and focused right away on the logistics of making his instruction very clear and his assignments easily accessible. He delivers student-centered actions, ensures safe learning environments, and cultivates skills necessary for lifelong learning.”

“His classroom vibe is always calm and light-hearted, and the kids are often the ones doing most of the talking, whether it be in break out rooms or screen-sharing in front of the whole class. He creates a strong relationship with IA’s in the room and empowers them to take ownership over their groups.”

“Joel is a great Teacher Leader at Mill Park in the sense that he’s willing to ask for help and he’s continually sharing ideas. He reaches out to coaches and support staff to help him improve instruction creating a model of teamwork. By nature he is a collaborator, and he has the ability to normalize mistakes and make everyone feel comfortable in the learning environment.”

“He was asked to co-lead a staff training for Classified staff on student engagement during CDL because if you hop onto his Google Meet, kids are smiling, and they are doing the work. Although it takes a lot of effort to pull this off, especially this year, he makes it look effortless. He has shared several videos with the staff on how to screen share, how to create break out room roles and how to engage students with incentives.”

Fanny Bretsch – 5th Grade at Earl Boyles

What colleagues have to say…

“Fanny has gone above and beyond in designing and implementing creative and culturally responsive math practises this year. Fanny implemented a project based learning model that focuses on systemic issues, and encourages students to apply math skill to solve real-life problems. Students have used math this year to analyze data, discuss affirmative action, the racial wealth gap, and much more. They have also done deeply meaningful projects on their identities as mathematicians.”

“Fanny is a fierce co-conspirator and white ally. Fanny organized a white allies group at Earl Boyles, and facilitates meetings where white colleagues can grapple with issues of systemic oppression, and dismantle white supremacy culture within our schools, while elevating the voices and experiences of BIPOC students and teachers.”

“She provides culturally responsive, highly effective instruction, engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, delivers student-centered actions.”

Hannah Snyder – Counselor at Lincoln Park

What colleagues have to say…

“Hannah inspires me everyday with her presence, compassion, and focus on the social and emotional well being of our students, families, and staff. Even though Comprehensive Distance Learning poses tremendous challenges to human connection, Hannah always finds innovative and engaging ways to foster relationships, build community, and instill joy in Lincoln Park.”

“Hannah publishes weekly read-alouds and activities for teachers to post on their online platforms, as well as her @LPcounselor Instagram and the school Facebook page. In them, she invites students to reflect and expand on key social skills, like kindness and persistence. She always takes care to read books that represent our student population, exposing both children and adults to high-quality, culturally responsive materials. She helps plan and facilitate monthly online events for students and families to craft, play, and enjoy themselves. She has physically distanced walks with students in our neighborhood. She created a series of unboxing videos to introduce families to FuelEd materials. These are but a few examples of the innovative ways in which Hannah builds community, connection, and a sense of belonging for both children and adults in our school.”

“Hannah understands that the social emotional well being of our staff is crucial to fostering a healthy classroom and school community. To this end, she includes fun images and links in our school’s daily messages to cheer us up and sends weekly texts to check in and encourage us. She models how to be vulnerable and sincere when having challenging conversations, as well as how to take care of ourselves both emotionally and physically. She is always open to chat and process the big and the little stuff, and responds as soon as she is able when we ask for specific resources to support children and families. Such openness, availability, and responsiveness from a school counselor helps elevate the wellbeing of the entire staff.”

“In addition to the daily struggles of the pandemic, systemic racism and social and economic injustice, the Lincoln Park neighborhood has faced tragic gun violence this school year. After both local and national traumatic events, Hannah has immediately responded by providing teachers with clear information, as well as developmentally and culturally responsive resources to support our students. And if the resources don’t exist, she creates them! She always makes herself available to visit our classrooms or meet with children individually to process.”

“Hannah is a distinguished teacher leader. Most importantly, she has a deep understanding that human connection across difference is at the core of what we do as educators and how we build a home place for students and families in schools. She is an example for us all!”

“She provides culturally responsive, highly effective instruction, engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, delivers student-centered actions, develops students socially, emotionally and academically, ensures safe learning environments, collaborates with families and community partners, promotes community service as essential to ongoing learning, contributes positively to our diverse society, cultivates skills necessary for lifelong learning, empowers students to advocate for themselves, uses district resources responsibly.”

Valoree Hill – Child Development & Food Science 2 Teacher at David Douglas High School

What colleagues have to say…

“I cannot say enough good things about Valoree Hill! I am actually shocked she has not already been recognized as a CODE Teacher Leader in our district. She is a colleague that everyone dreams of having. She is so knowledgeable, thoughtful, caring, hardworking and just a great person overall. She wears a ton of hats at the high school and is on multiple committees, I can’t even name them all! Whenever something needs to get done in our department (Pro-Tech/FACS) she is always right on top of it and is always willing to volunteer for something to help out where she can. As our Division Chair, she has been going to multiple meetings weekly, especially during CDL, and always keeps us updated on information that we need to know. She is also a great advocate for us, as well as for her students. If she doesn’t know the answer, which is very rare, she will find out who does and get back to us. She is not only an amazing person to teach with, but she also makes such great connections with students. Her Child Development class feeds into my Early Childhood Education class, and students love Mrs. Hill. She really takes the time to get to her know students on a personal level, and it makes a huge difference in the classroom. Students want to do well in her class, because of the relationships and connections she has with them. Whenever I walk by her classroom, her kids are always engaged, having fun and learning lifelong skills.”

She…”engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, develops students socially, emotionally and academically, cultivates skills necessary for lifelong learning”.

“I don’t know how she does it all, but Valoree is also a mom to a 3.5 year old and 1.5 year old AND is currently going to school for her admin license! Valoree Hill also represented our ECE East County Consortium at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in Nashville last fall. She presented about our Early Childhood education program at the high school and how we have articulated ourselves with Eastern Oregon University so our students can earn college credits through our Program of Student. Valoree Hill is also a DD graduate – Class of 2003.”

Craig McCord – Social Studies Teacher at Fir Ridge Campus

What colleagues have to say…

“Craig has managed to not only create relevant and engaging lessons during CDL but he has had the added challenge of teaching Government during one of the most turbulent election years in recent memory. He has handled hard questions with such grace and helped students navigate the roller coaster of events that have been actively unfolding. He has worked tirelessly to make his curriculum current, neutral and informative. With the unpredictable nature of what has been happening, this has meant needing to shift and pivot on a dime. The thoughtfulness in how he presents information to students is commendable, he is steadfast in his pursuit to get factual and pertinent information to our students while also helping them to process and reflect on what is happening. “

“Craig has created a safe space for discussion and discourse among our students and has maintained his ability to make real and positive connections with students even during CDL. He actively helps students to get registered to vote and empowers them to make informed decisions around politics and government. He has not also has maintained a neutral stance but has taught students how to be critical thinkers when reviewing online and news based materials. In today’s world fact checking and peer reviewed materials are essential component of being an informed citizen.”

He “provides culturally responsive, highly effective instruction, engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, establishes high standards and expectations, delivers student-centered actions, develops students socially, emotionally and academically, ensures safe learning environments, collaborates with families and community partners, promotes community service as essential to ongoing learning, contributes positively to our diverse society, cultivates skills necessary for lifelong learning, empowers students to advocate for themselves, uses district resources responsibly. Craig actively participates in professional growth and development around cultural competency/responsive teaching and social justice issues. “

Ariane Donovan – PE Teacher at Alice Ott

What colleagues have to say…

“Ariane is always willing to lend a helping hand. Regardless of what needs to be done, Ariane is a part of it and she does it with grace and compassion.”

“Ariane moved from 6th grade to PE, and even with learning a new job and routine for herself, she continued to stay connected to the 6th grade team and helped the person who filled her spot in 6th grade. She has provided ideas for different ways to do things (in a variety of content areas) and often offers to help cover classes for colleagues. She delivers student-centered actions, develops students socially, emotionally and academically, ensures safe learning environments.”

Muhammad Rahman – Math Teacher at Floyd Light

What colleagues have to say…

“Muhammad meets students where they’re at and does it with a spirit of joy. He is always making connections with kids that allow his teaching to really impact them. In addition, he is part of our WEB program and is part of the leadership group for teachers of color in our district.”

“He gives students a trusted adult to connect to and that can be hard for many middle school students especially in this time of a pandemic. I think this impacts our community more than we know. He is a positive force in our school. He provides culturally responsive, highly effective instruction, ensures safe learning environments, contributes positively to our diverse society.”

“In the classroom, Muhammad earns the respect of his students by building positive relationships and holding them to high expectations. In the school, Muhammad leads our Equity Team and does an outstanding job! He challenges us to adopt an equity lens when making decisions about curriculum, school policies, and daily interactions with students and families. Muhammad does this with a strong sense of conviction and humor that makes people want to follow his lead.”

“Muhammad works hard to keep the staff aware of opportunities to improve our equity practises. He regularly sends out emails with professional development training, organizes material for the staff to incorporate more equity into our classrooms, and provides resources to keep social justice issues at the front and center of what we do. Muhammad is also a member of the District Staff of Color group and is working with district leadership to implement the Freedom Dreams.”

“It has been great to see Muhammad’s journey from an Instructional Assistant in our SLP-B program to a teacher-leader who is making a positive impact on our students, families, and district!”

Carli Halligan – Math Teacher at Ron Russell

What colleagues have to say…

“Carli Halligan is one of the stabilizing forces at Ron Russell Middle School. She consistently looks for ways to support her peers. She serves as head of the math department where she repeatedly finds ways to improve our professional development and collaboration efforts. One of the major things Carli has done to improve our professional development efforts was to work through the district office to get us all enrolled in an on-line Stanford University math course for teachers. She led all sessions, promoting a sense of collaboration and enrichment for us in this year-long course.”

“Carli also serves as our integrated I and integrated II math teacher. In that role, she teaches high school classes to eighth graders to ensure their high-level math abilities are being challenged. Sometimes these students can be overlooked because they rarely cause behavior issues. Carli is a firm believer they deserve to be challenged. She has spent countless hours developing the curriculum and serving as a liaison with the high school math curriculum department.”

“Carli also serves as our District H.A.P.P.Y Wellness Representative. She sets up wellness challenges, solicits and supports volunteers who participate, and coaches us throughout the monthly challenges- always with sincere encouragement. She promotes well-being and fosters a non-judgmental approach to everything she does.”

“Carli also began a weekly staff workout program that ran for roughly 4 years (before the pandemic). She arranged a variety of workouts for staff members once per week, working with a personal trainer to set up modified workout routines that would meet all members’ individual levels of fitness. She coached, praised and encouraged participants throughout and in between workouts.”

“One of Carli’s qualities that most impresses me is her sense of humbleness. She does many amazing things that people are not aware of because she does them with grace and humility, and without drawing attention to herself. Many times people like her can be taken for granted because others do not see many of the amazing things they do. Carli embodies all the qualities I think the committee is looking for in a teacher leader.”

“She engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, establishes high standards and expectations, contributes positively to our diverse society.”