Life Quilt, row 4,#4 – My Career as a high school science teacher

Retirement came in 1998 after thirty two years of teaching high school math, physical science, chemistry, physics and  computets. I was recruited from Colorado State University on a cold blustery ground blizzard kind of day in February. Go pack they said, the Camilleas are in bloom in Oregon.


Later I found out from the science supervisor why I was hired.  He liked certain special science teacher candidates. If you hadn’t taught, and you had A’s and F’s, he picked you because it showed him that you could do the work if you wanted to, but you weren’t above failing a class if it wasn’t good.  If you were an experienced teacher, then he looked for evaluations that said you were a good science teacher, but couldn’t keep quiet at faculty meetings. Therefore he filled the district high school teachers that were renegades who often led the teachers unions.


Four of the five high Portland schools I taught in are closed. I started in 1966 at the height of the baby boom at Roosevelt High where I taught Physics (PSSC), general math(SMSG), special math, Introductory Physical Sience (IPS) and was the Neighborhood Youth Corps coordinator after the previous guy left for Job Corps, in the North Portland neighborhood of St Johns. Roosevelt is still open and undergoing remodeling to become a community center.


In 1969 I was selected to join the faculty at the new Adams high school, run by Harvard PhD candidates and using the school within a school model.  the rest of the district called us ‘Disneyland by the park’ because we were filled with radical staff, hippies, and union members.  I taught physics (HPP), Integrated Science (That I helped write at Portland State University), Dr Wong’s physical science (Individualized projects and grading) and General education (THE multidisciplinary course for All students within the College Exploration School (CEX) within a school.) I served as Science Department Chairman.

Beginning in 1966 I was involved in PAT-OEA-NEA, serving as building rep, and trustee for OEA. In 1974 I was the teacher spokesman for the teachers bargaining team. In 1976 I was elected President of the Portland Association of Teachers. Later I would serve as chair of the grievance committee.

When I finished my year at PAT I was assigned at Jefferson High School, a magnet school for the Performing Arts. I taught Chemistry (Chem Study), physics (PSSC), and computer programming. (BASIC and Pascal on the Honeywell mainframe at district headquarters. I also. Served as unit leader for the science, technology and math group;

NOTE: Jefferson is actually still open, but has changed to what is being called a ‘Middle College’ when it joined with Portland Community College (PCC) across the street from the football stadium.

I left Jefferson in 1983 to create the new Instructional Technolody program, a child of the Curriculum and data Processing departments, which eventually situated itself at the old (closed) Washington High School. I was a teacher on special assignment (TOSA).

In 1989 I received my PhD in computers in Education from the University of Oregon, and promptly lost my TOSA position as a result of the passage of Ballot measure 5 which restricted property taxes and was then sent to Marshall High School in SE Portland. (Washington is currently being restored to become a performing venue and restaurant.)

At Marshall I taught Physical Science on Macintosh computers using STELLA, Image Processing, mouse trap cars and video measurements. (Marshall was closed in 2011.)

I retired in 1998 and became a global volunteer, working in South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Viet Nam and Cambodia, and moved to Corvallis.

= Small town boy

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