February 19, 2018

Grade School Welcomes New Classroom Teachers


The Grade School is fortunate to be welcoming an excellent group of classroom teachers to our staff this year. The existing staff was invited to participate in interviews and observations of the teacher candidates and feel confident that we have hired folks who will not only enhance our current programs but offer new skills and expertise to our program.


Jenny Meadows will be teaching an intermediate class. She comes to us from Corbett Charter School, where she was known for her creativity and excellent rapport with families. It’s no surprise that every project Jenny does comes out looking beautiful, as she has previous job experience as an interior designer. She loves to create beauty whenever possible and drawing is her favorite pastime. She lives on the river, which offers her great opportunities to experience and record nature first hand, everyday.

Mrs. Meadows is particularly excited about the district’s Place-Based Education. She loves the outdoors and has always had a strong connection to the Columbia River Gorge. Specifically, she has a passion for plants, animals and the human story. The intermediate team will be greatly enhanced by Mrs. Meadows’ skill for the aesthetic.

Lauren Collins will be teaching a primary class. She previously taught 2nd and 3rd grade at a small private school in Columbia County. Prior to that, she worked with agencies that serve autistic children. During a sabbatical, Ms. Collins worked for fashion PR firms in Paris and New York, and although it was a fun change of pace for awhile, it only confirmed that her real passion is working with young children everyday. Ms. Collins spent most of her childhood in the UK and extended periods as an adult in France, so she understands well what it’s like to be new to a culture or language.

Ms. Collins was drawn to Corbett because of the multi-age classes. Her student teaching was spent in a multi-age setting and she’s always felt it makes the most sense for students and teachers. She’s eager to inspire her students to be compassionate, inquisitive, life-long learners. The primary team is eager to draw on Lauren’s knack for engaging children in a warm, well-disciplined classroom.

Olivia Vavroch will be teaching an intermediate class. This summer, she drove to her new home in Portland from Boston, Massachusetts with her husband and two cats. (who had mixed feelings about the 6-day drive). In Massachusetts, she co-taught in 3rd and 5th grade classrooms, providing for the needs of special ed students. She was also the Assistant to the Director of Continuing Education at Lesley University in Cambridge.

Ms. Vavroch learned about Corbett at the job fair and was struck by the strong sense of community and how the staff works in a truly student-centered environment. In addition to her special ed credentials, we will certainly appreciate her varied talents such as playing accordion and tambourine and working with stained glass.

Jennifer DiMaggio will be teaching an intermediate class. Shenhas worked full-time in an Estacada elementary school as well as working with infants and toddlers in the Tigard-Tualatin school district. However, most recently, she worked as the long-term substitute here in Corbett. The staff was delighted when Jennifer applied for one of our open positions, as her hard-working yet easy-going nature made it evident she’d be an excellent collaborator.

Ms. DiMaggio is inspired by what she’s seen in Corbett. She appreciates how everyone works together and respects education.

Her favorite pastimes are spent outdoors – hiking, running, biking, backpacking, camping and swimming. She loves exploring new places with her friends, family and dogs. Currently, she is making plans to hike the Mont Blanc trail in the Alps next summer during her honeymoon. She is an avid reader and is eager to share many of her favorite books with her students.

Summer Bell-Watkins may not be a familiar name to you, but chances are that the name Summer Ross rings a bell. She will be teaching an intermediate class. Summer is a Corbett native who has travelled far from home, yet never stopped loving her home community. Most recently, Ms. Bell-Watkins taught 1st grade in Shenzhen, China. Prior to that, she taught in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sellwood.

Professionally, Summer is excited that she can grow and share her passions for literacy and technology in Corbett. Her dream is to foster a love of reading and writing for each of her students. She also believes in the use of innovation by teachers, parents and students to enhance creativity.

Mrs. Bell-Watkins lives in Corbett with her husband and infant cutie-pie son Sena. We’re delighted to have another Corbett native on staff.

Chad Clark will be teaching a primary class. Most recently, he taught at Corbett Charter School. His student teaching was done in Mrs. Wold’s and Mrs. Dawkins’ classes. Prior to teaching, Mr. Clark had various careers in environmental engineering, remodeling and making furniture, among many others (including corndog assembly).

Mr. Clark likes that Corbett district is small and flexible. He enjoys the rural setting and small-town feel. Since his student teaching, he fell in love with the staff and families. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys nothing more than seeing people play in the out of doors. He is also a skilled gardener who keeps a collection of rare plants.

In addition to academic strengths in math and science, Mr, Clark is skilled at building and maintaining close relationships with students and families. We expect to fully capitalize on these qualities.

     Elisabeth Neely will be teaching a primary class. Her previous classroom teaching position was with Corbett Charter School. Prior to that, she was an environmental educator at Oxbow Park, Outdoor School and other organizations for many years.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Neely’s expertise as a naturalist drew her to Corbett district’s place-based education. What better place is there to tie nature to the classroom? She was also impressed with its reputation as an excellent school system. As she loves nature and the outdoors, the rural setting is also a perfect match for her.

In addition to the outdoors, she loves reading great books and urban farming. At her home in Portland, she and her family share space with pets such as dogs, goats and a hedgehog. She has already done some exciting brainstorming as to how she can use her talents to enhance our programs.

Sam Wallace will be teaching an intermediate class. For the past 10 years, he has taught 5th grade in David Douglass. Before that, he was a frequent volunteer in classrooms in Portland and subbed all over Multnomah County. He also taught English in Korea for a year.

Mr. Wallace’s interests include reading, traveling, playing sports and taking his three dogs on adventures. Generally speaking, he just loves learning about new things.

Mr. Wallace heard a lot about Corbett before applying for a teaching position, largely because his wife, Marleen Carroll, has worked at Corbett Grade School for the past 3 years. He is excited about Corbett’s innovative and thoughtful teaching as well as its emphasis on teacher collaboration and connecting with students through multi-age classrooms. We are fortunate to be joined by someone with his level of experience and enthusiasm.

Kristin Wold About Kristin Wold

This is my 28th year teaching in Corbett. I am incredibly fortunate to have brilliant, energetic colleagues; creative, supportive administrators; and parents who over-whelmingly love partnering with the school to make the best possible opportunities for their kids. I have a great job.
Professionally, my passion is working with emergent readers. I strongly believe that our first priority in teaching reading is to get kids to love books. We need to introduce them to authors and topics they’ll love so they’ll seek out reading for pleasure.
Personally, I have been married for 30 years and have a 16-year-old daughter who attends Corbett. I enjoy traveling, hiking in the gorge, and studying Japanese.