2014 Sunburst Award Winners

On Sunday, July 13th, braving unexpected rain and thunder, we gathered at Portland’s Historic Old Church to honor and celebrate three remarkable arts advocates in our community. This day was especially sweet as two of our honorees, Teacher of the Year Esther Lindbloom and Principal of the Year Susan McElroy, retired this June from public service. Below are words about and from our award winners.

From Michael Wherli, D.A. Grout Teacher:

Susan McElroy, hands down, is the best school principal I have ever encountered. I also count her as a friend and mentor. Her gentle guidance is well known to all who have worked or known Susan. Calm, steady, fair, even-handed, and dedicated are just some of the words to describe this amazing individual. These traits and  more have filtered through the entire staff of Grout Elementary. It’s safe for me to say that all of us at Grout Elementary have benefitted by watching Susan in action.

From Allison Tigard, Young Audiences Programs Director:

Perhaps it was because she [Esther Lindbloom] began as a music teacher for 7 years—she always got it, the power of the arts for young people. She was always a part of the “choir”—in that we never needed to do any preaching when it came to her and her team. She saw—even with teaching graphic novels, outside a typical teachers’ comfort zone—that kids thrived on being creative while learning. She’d say, “I don’t teach math or social studies or art—I teach children.”

Perhaps it was the 43 years she spent in the classroom, 43 years total, that gave her the depth and ease in front of kids that seemed like magic to observe. “That doesn’t look like an expedition boat. That looks like a pirate ship” she said to a group of kids. “Shall we see what expedition boats really looked like?” And they gathered round her desk, like it was a campfire and time for ghost stories. They were 100% engaged, curious, discovering new things together.

From Esther Lindbloom, 2014 Teacher of the Year:

I want to help raise responsible, curious, resourceful, empathetic, life-long learners. Isolated skills must be taught, but they won’t be remembered or used effectively unless they are connected to students’ lives and unless they are seen as valuable. Thank you for this honor. Thank you for honoring the teaching of the whole child.

And just in case you haven’t had a chance to experience the magic of a live performance from Teaching Artist of the Year Andy Furgeson (aka Red Yarn), go ahead and treat yourself.

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