Redmond School District social studies teachers win VFW Teacher of the Year honors

Ridgeview High School’s (RVHS) Ben Parsons was recently named Secondary Teacher of the Year by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4108 in a ceremony held at RVHS. Elton Gregory Middle School’s Marques Hase was also named Secondary Teacher of the Year for grades 6-8 in a stand-up assembly on Tuesday, Jan.16, 2018 at Elton Gregory.

Ridgeview’s Assistant Principal, Kathleen Glogau, submitted Parsons’ nomination. Elton Gregory teacher Melissa Develter submitted Hase’s nomination. Parsons and Hase were chosen based on comments and recommendations from peers, students and administrators. The selection was made by a three-person judging committee, independent of the VFW members.

“We were excited when we received the nominations for Ben and Marques,” VFW member Don DeLand said. “Both nominees display a creative and innovative method of teaching high school and middle school students about the responsibilities of being a good citizen in their community, state, nation and world. Ben and Marques epitomize the type of educator we look for to represent our VFW Post for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher.”

As part of their recognition, Parsons and Hase both received a $250 check and will compete for statewide and possibly national honors.

“We’re pleased with Ben’s well-deserved VFW honor,” Glogau said. “His educational philosophy is to provide a rigorous and relevant curriculum that provides every student every chance to succeed, every day. As a government teacher, he creates a learning environment that challenges students through well-designed learning tasks and activities on civic responsibilities and how to be an outstanding American citizen.”

Now in his 18th year with the Redmond School District, Parsons was originally hired as a language arts, social studies and science teacher at the district’s Hartman Middle School (now Redmond Early Learning Center). He later moved to Redmond High School in 2005, where he taught social studies for seven years before moving to open the new Ridgeview High School in 2012. He currently teaches government and sociology and is the school’s AVID coordinator. Parsons also serves as a mentor for student teachers. AVID is a international program that trains educators to use proven practices in order to prepare students for success in high school, college and a career.

Parsons was recently awarded the Citizen Scholar Award from State Sen. Tim Knopp (Bend) in 2017. Each year, state senators and state representatives are able to nominate a teacher from their district. Parsons will attend classes at the state capitol building in Salem provided by the Classroom Law Project. The classes are focused on teaching youth participation in democracy.

“In Ben’s classroom, it’s what happens outside of his class that drives his work with students,” Assistant Principal Jensine Peterson said. “He skillfully poses questions and dilemmas to students, empowering them to think for themselves and to always be questioning. His classroom pops with energy thanks to his use of modern technology, lots of student discourse, and Ben’s very own brand of humor.”

Senior Lindsay Sisson shared that Parsons’ approach to teaching has helped her learn more about government and kept her engaged in topics that are often confusing and overwhelming.

“He understands we need brain breaks and finds a creative way to link it back to what we are studying,” Sisson said. “I have learned more about government in his class than I ever imagined I could.”

Hase began his teaching career at Culver Middle School in 2011, moving to Elton Gregory in 2012. He has served as an AVID team leader since 2014, a role allowing him to be involved in planning and presenting multiple teacher strategies workshops for Elton Gregory and the district.

“Being a middle school educator, Marques impacts students at a critical time in their development,” Tracie Renwick said. Renwick is the district’s director of secondary education. She previously served as Elton Gregory’s principal, working directly with Hase for six years.

“He encourages students to think critically, respect the past, and contribute to a positive future. Even students who are resistant to adult guidance are drawn to Marques as a mentor and role model.”

As part of his class, Hase has students take a “Citizenship Test.” Students must identify important people and places in the United States. He also has a “Hall of Fame,” a research project in which students pick who they think was the most influential person in American history and why.

“He helps push students to critically think about what it is to be an American citizen and about those who sacrificed to make this country what it is today, Elton Gregory teacher Sammy Webb said. “He encourages students to recognize the role an individual can play to better society.”

When he’s not in the classroom, you can often find Hase on the mat, diamond or field. He has coached wrestling, baseball and football for a number of years.

In addition to Parson’s and Hase’s recognition, Elton Gregory language arts teacher Melissa Develter received a runner-up certificate from the VFW.

According to DeLand, teacher nominees from La Pine to Warm Springs will soon be considered to move on to the state level. State winners then compete nationally.