Back to school: Meet the teachers

By Megan Kehoe / The Bulletin

Published Aug 29, 2014 at 06:11AM / Updated Aug 29, 2014 at 06:19AM

Bend-La Pine schools will see almost 70 new teachers this school year, 13 of whom will be starting their first year teaching. We check in with a first-year teacher, and an experienced one who will be taking on a new role, to see what they have in store for students in the new school year.

Hitting the ground running

Kate Tibbitts plans to put up a quote on one of the walls of her R.E. Jewell Elementary kindergarten classroom.

“Always make new mistakes.”

It’s a quote Tibbitts saw last year in a Pine Ridge Elementary classroom where she student taught. And she feels it’s the kind of spirit she wants to bring into her own classroom this year.

“I hope kids take away a lot from my classroom in terms of curriculum knowledge and Common Core State Standards,” Tibbitts, 25, said. “But maybe most importantly, I want them also to develop a sense of confidence and fearlessness in regards to problem solving. If they come across a problem, instead of being nervous and turning away from it, I want them to be excited for the learning that will come out of it.”

Tibbitts is a Central Oregon native who went to school in Sisters. She attended OSU-Cascades for her undergraduate degree in human development and family sciences, as well as for her master’s in elementary education. Last year, she was a student teacher in kindergarten and third-grade classrooms at Pine Ridge.

She said she’s most excited this year about having her own classroom and having the opportunity to spend the year with her students.

“Kindergarten is a year of so much growth,” Tibbitts said. “Some children come in not able to read or write, but by the end of the year, they’re reading, and writing page-long stories. I love to see them grow.”

Tibbitts said she has all the same apprehensions that any new teacher might, but that she’s looking forward to her first year.

“I’m excited to get my feet wet,” she said.

A familiar face in a new place

On the final day of school last year, Eddy Robinson told the eighth-graders in his Sky View Middle School orchestra class that if they hadn’t yet signed up for orchestra as an elective in high school, they’d be missing out. Not just on another year of playing music — but on another year of being taught by Robinson.

“It was a great feeling to be able to tell them that — I just couldn’t keep from smiling,” Robinson, 33, said. “It was cool to see some students who were not going to take orchestra next year go back and change their schedules to include it.”

Robinson is new to Mountain View High School and will be taking over the school’s orchestra classes this year. However, he is a familiar face in the district. He’s taught at Skyview and Pilot Butte middle schools for the past two years.

Robinson is a native of Salem and attended the University of Oregon for his undergraduate degree in music. He also obtained his teaching license in 2005 from the university’s School of Music. He taught in Florence, Arizona, for seven years, where he was challenged to teach all grade levels at multiple schools. Robinson moved to Bend with his family in 2012, and taught music part time at Skyview and Pilot Butte.

“I think by having the same teacher again this year, it will help (Skyview Middle) students with retention,” Robinson said. “They know how the classroom operates.”

Robinson said he wants to continue instilling his high school students with an enthusiasm for learning, as well as a strong work ethic.

But he said it’s also important for students to have fun.

“It’s an elective for most — it’s not like I’m their math teacher,” Robinson said.

Robinson said teaching at the high school level will present him with new challenges like how to make sure serious music students are well-prepared for college music programs. He said his main goal is for students to come away from his class with a deep sense of music appreciation, which he hopes they will carry throughout their lives.

“My big thing is that there are dots on a page, and then there’s music,” Robinson said. “I ask students, which one would you rather listen to? I tell them to make what they’re playing say something. That they should make the music matter.”

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