This June 2021, Portland Adventist Elementary School (PAES) will bid farewell to a pillar of their institution, Nancy Stinson, as she retires. After graduating from the University of Oregon, Stinson began her first full year of teaching at PAES and remained there for the rest of her 37-year career. She has lately been teaching 2nd grade, though in her many years at PAES she has taught across levels K-4 and the media center.
One way in which Stinson has impacted both PAES and the broader Oregon Conference (OC) is through her contribution to Professional Learning Communities (PLC). PLCs have provided opportunities for collaboration across schools among educators and Stinson has enjoyed serving as a leader of the 1, 2 group. Superintendent Angela White reflects that Stinson “has been paramount in our journey in Oregon during these past six years” and “she led the way for our conference to establish flourishing and student-centered PLCs where teachers could collaborate, learn, and have fun together.” White continues, “Her leadership has been a contagious catalyst for most of OC’s initiatives. She has also spent the last six years being an OC mentor for many of our new teachers and provided a solid foundation for organizing and instructing a thriving academic program for the lower grades.”
In her classroom, Stinson employed her excellent leadership skills in seeking to equip her students with life skills like respect and generosity. She has used a book called The Power to Choose, which she refers to as the “P to C,” to help guide her students in growing their life skills. When a student struggled, she would remind them that they always have the “P to C” how they will behave in that situation. Stinson has found it to be an effective classroom management strategy that she could incorporate throughout all subjects.
Another tool that Stinson has particularly loved employing in her classroom is choosing a theme for each year. For example, her theme this year is “God is Wild About Us”and she has used that as her inspiration for decorating and choosing songs. In relation to this emphasis, Stinson would remind her students of Bible promises such as, “God loves us… there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for us, we can count on him, and he never changes.” Picking a theme helps Stinson in building community and establishing a Christ-centered focus for the year.
The creativity and devotion to Jesus that has marked Stinson’s teaching has been exemplary for PAES. School leader Brandon O’Neal shares, “As a principal I am often asked, ‘What do you look for in a teacher?’. I can just send them to Mrs. Stinson’s class. Mrs. Stinson is the model of a great teacher. She is innovative, kind, knows her students and their needs, and is a lifelong learner. But most of all she loves Jesus and shares him with all students and our PAES family every day.”
Stepping away from teaching at PAES will not be easy for Stinson as she has spent her life there, developing both personally and professionally. Her years at the school have been “more than just a job” to her. She states, “I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to do something that I love.” Although she will no longer be an employee of the school, she looks forward to being a “teacher fairy”—offering volunteer support to ease the burden on educators. She also plans to hike, golf with her husband, take classes, and spend time at their vacation home in Central Oregon.
Thank you, Nancy, for the passion you have brought to teaching and love for Jesus that you inspire in those around you!