Pacific Alumni Confront Tough Issues in Schools

“I’m supposed to teach your students how government works, to think critically and to listen to others and consider opposing views, and then help them develop their own informed opinions.”

Helen Haberman MAT ’96 is a Pacific University alumna teaching AP government at Churchill High School in Eugene.

The past weeks have presented a challenge and opportunity for teachers like Haberman in helping their students understand and process politics in the making. Haberman is one of several Pacific University alumni teaching in the Eugene area who were interviewed last week by the Eugene Register-Guard about how schools face such challenges.

“… In such a volatile political climate, teachers still face challenges to keep misinformation out, classroom discussions civil and young children feeling safe when the world is full of uncertainty,” the Register-Guard wrote.

For Haberman and fellow AP government teacher Tyler Nice MAT ’01, who teaches at Thurston High School in Springfield, it’s about teaching America’s government systems and also supporting high-school students through confusion and uncertainty.

“I also just recognize their emotional state too — I told them I was on a range of emotions on Wednesday [Jan. 6]: everything from just despair on the verge of tears to really just angry, frustrated,” Nice told the Register-Guard.

Younger kids, too, need support in school in digesting big ideas and feelings they don’t always understand.

Kevin Gordon MAT ’96 is principal of Camas Ridge Elementary in Eugene. “It’s out there, and the ubiquitous internet in everybody’s pocket doesn’t help us any,” Gordon told the Register-Guard. “Those are things that teachers in education … are working with all the time.”

Haberman, Nice and Gordon are among more than 4,500 Pacific University College of Education alumni, who make up significant portions of the workforce in Oregon school districts in communities like Eugene and Hillsboro. The college offers undergraduate and graduate teacher licensure programs based in EugeneForest Grove, and Woodburn.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021