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A Tribute to Teachers

Would you like to express your most sincere appreciation for all that current and former Wilson faculty and staff have done to enhance the lives of generations of Wilson students.? Written tributes from alumni of all ages will be posted on the 50th website and at the 50th Homecoming event on October 21, 2006.

Submit your tribute, including your name, class year, name of teacher or staff, subject taught and years at Wilson by clicking on this link: Tribute to Teachers

Clifford Matousek, Choir Director
Thank you, Mr. Matousek. I really liked being in the choir under your direction. Besides liking it so much, your high performance standards and specific techniques helped when I went on to major in music at Willamette. I'm sure that you enhanced the enjoyment of music for many students and that it was then shared with their families. Best wishes, Mary Sue (Gellatly) Short, Class of 1960

Mr. Fred Burton, English
The first day of English class--must have been 1960--Mr. Fred Burton was new to the school. My friend Donna Paullin and I speculated on who would come through the door and what kind of a teacher he would be. My recollection is that he was sort of short with a bit of a high voice. We immediately dubbed him (between ourselves) "Freddie Burton." Mr. Burton was the best English teacher--probably the best teacher--I ever had. He pushed me to be my best and saw in me the potential to write well. He saw through the timid, shy person I seemed to be to who I really was. I believe it is in great part thanks to Mr. Burton that today I edit and publish my own newsletter, and do so with skill and confidence. So, Mr. Burton, if you are out there, Thank You!!! Carol A. Ranney, Class of 1963

Norm Sipple, Physics
Norm Sipple was my instructor for Physics when I was a senior, but more importantly he became a mentor and a friend of many years standing. I had signed up to take the P.S.S.C. Physics partly because some pretty bright students thought it was better than the classical course. I don't remember what PSSC stands for, but it was an alternative curriculum taught from a set of binders that looked like Schaum's college outline paperback books.

The course was avant garde, in that the lab emphasis was observation-based and the labs were often done ahead of classroom presentation of the material. That was really stimulating, and caused me to make some career and education decisions before I went to college. I knew I was headed for college, but my motivation was relatively low going into my senior year.

There was something in the mutual affability and camaraderie of my getting to know Mr. Sipple that provided me with an inspiration to really get going with my classes, and to raise my GPA so I had more options for college. I knew I had an uphill challenge, but if my memory is at all accurate, I managed to raise my average from something like a 2.25 to more like a 2.75 or 2.80 in that senior year.

You might recall that Norm was a short-wave radio operator with the call sign K7AUB, and with that hobby, he was a customer at an electronics store where I had a part-time job. During the entire year I was in his class, I can say that there was no favoritism from his being a customer, or that he ever acknowledged that relationship in front of the class. It was simply and professionally "teacher and student" in the classroom, but at the store, it was friend-to-friend, peer-to-peer. He made me feel valued in an entirely new way.

During that year, it was the encouragement that I received and that was so well timed, that made a lasting difference. I was equally interested in architecture and engineering, but I was inspired toward engineering by the balance of analysis over art. After 25 years of design and 12 years of management, I left the high tech corporate world and used some of the same inspiration to take a position in construction management with Habitat for Humanity. The architecture side of my interests had received its day. And the analysis from engineering was put to work making Habitat houses better, stronger, more economical, more consistently constructed and with processes easier to teach to our volunteers. I count Norm Sipple as one of the best mentors a young man could have, and I write this to even further demonstrate the appreciation I tried to share with him in the several chance and planned visits we enjoyed.

At his 50th wedding anniversary, in about 1996, I had the chance to tell Norm and his wife about the role he had played. At his memorial service I mentioned that when a ham radio contact was ended, the polite Morse code or verbal signoff was the shorthand "73." In signing off with a good friend or a loved one, the 73 was replaced with the characters "88." So, my parting comment was to say, "88, good friend." Bill Gellatly, Class of 1961

Bernie Carlson, Chemistry
I would like to make a tribute to Bernie Carlson, my chemistry teacher both at Jackson High School and then again at Wilson. Mr. Carlson was really the first teacher who treated the students more like adults than kids. Now that I have my own kids, I realize how difficult it must have been to let go the reins a little. Interestingly enough, most of the students rose to the occasion and behaved better in his class than in others. On an academic note, Mr. Carlson certainly didn't have the easiest subject to teach. I will always remember the end of the year in Advanced Chem and he was passing out awards to everyone. Most were getting awards for things like knowing the periodic table the best and most successful experiments, etc. When he got around to me, he handed me my certificate and it said, "for the best smile". Well, the fact that I got the smile award when everyone else got an academic award made it pretty clear that Mr. Carlson was less than enamored with my chemistry skills, but had still found something positive to say. I'll bet he would be surprised to learn that I chose science as a profession! Thanks for always trying to look on the bright side, Mr. Carlson. Lauri (Brown) Sadorus, Class of 1984

Kathy Anderson, English
My name is Anna Bauer and I'd like to give a tribute to a Wilson teacher. The teacher I want to talk about is Kathy Anderson. She is my English teacher and I really like her because she's incredibly sweet. She is a mainstream teacher and I'm in Special Ed student. She calls me "sweetie" and I like that. She is helpful and patient.

I like the school work and my favorite assignment is vocabulary. When I have troubles on my school work, she helps me. She's very understanding when she speaks to the class and she's cheery. I say "hi" to her when I see her in the hall. I come into her room outside of school time and just say "hi" to her sometimes. I feel really close and comfortable around Ms. Anderson. I think she is just warm hearted. I gave her candy for being a good teacher with flexible thinking.

In the past I had some teachers that were rigid, not very helpful, and impatient. One time I was asking for help because I misunderstood something, but the teacher yelled at me. Those teachers spoke to me impatiently and harshly. I don't like that tone of voice. Sometimes I even cry. The biggest problem is I don't have the guts to ask for help, I don't learn well because I am afraid they would snap at me and become impatient. Some students are afraid of those teachers, especially with Special needs issues like me. It's the tone of voice and the impatience that upset me.

Ms. Anderson is very patient when she helps me and her tone of voice is calm. I learn more that way and I get better grades. Students with special needs tend to ask for a lot. I think asking for help is really wise. Ms. Anderson and I made a relationship and became friends. She understands my special needs and she's there to teach and help students when they need hints. I like it when the teacher gives me positive feedback. When I walk into her room, I say " Hi" and when I leave I say " Take care ". She smiles at me and I wave at her and it makes me feel good all day.

I want to say that Ms. Anderson is my favorite teacher in the whole school and thank you Ms. Anderson for all your help and your support. Anna Bauer, Sophomore, Class of 2009

Mr. Jim MacDicken
I cannot say enough great things about Mr. MacDicken. He was an inspirational teacher who truly loved being with high school students. I was in his history, sociology, and psychology classes. He took the time to get know each of us individually-you felt important when you were in his class. His classes were engaging and meaningful. He was not only a wonderful teacher but an equally talented coach who made a tremendous difference in many students' lives. Mary Groppo Esterline, Class of 1984

Wilson Teachers
Wow! We can't believe that it has been 50 years since we attended Wilson High. The administrators, teachers and coaches were the best and paved the foundation for many of us who attended college and for those students that choose other fields of employment. Mr. Keuscher, Mr. Proppe, Miss Cimino, Mr. Conlon, Mr. Ellmers, Mr. Gray, Mr. Matousek, Mr. Miller, Mr. Read, Mr. Stanton, Mr. Sweet, Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Voll, Mr. Webster, Mr. Witty and many other teachers and coaches that played such an important part in our early development. George Held '58 & Susan Freed-Held '60

Both my husband and I graduated from Grant, and Mr. Keuscher and I worked in the building before Wilson opened 50 yrs. ago! I filled the position of Student Store Manager and Bookkeeper. It has been a wonderful memory. Mrs. Whitted, the Dean of Girls, was my neighbor in the N.E. district prior to each of us moving to Raleigh Hills eventually and being neighbors again. My son, Gary, attended Wilson, played football for Bob Sweet, basketball for Bob Webster, track 440 runner, and was Sophomore Class President. Gary retired from the Air Force as a pilot in the Viet Nam war, flew for America West and again retired when the age limit applied. He is now living in Scottsdale, Arizona. Do tell anyone in my decade of participation at Wilson that I often think of the "Old Days". What pleasant memories! Elizabeth Stocks, 1958 Alumni Parent

Merle Lotz, Choir
Merle Lotz was not just a choir teacher, but a REASON to come to school every day. He shared his passion for music and created the most phenomenal harmonies and friendships ever. It was exciting to be a part of the choir and ensemble during my 4 years at Wilson in the late 60s. Today Merle continues to be a personal friend of my family. I cannot imagine my high school years without Merle. He touched the lives of so many with his gifts of song and friendship. Here's to YOU, Mr. Merle Lotz- you continue to rock and we loved you and still love you!!!! Thanks for making such an awesome difference in who I am. As a late-deafened adult, my tunes sound different, but I will always carry a song in my heart, thanks to "Merle Lotz". With admiration, Sally Rudnick Class of 1970

Mr. Pierce, English
I had Mr. Pierce for junior English, and he always asked us to send him a postcard with a "yes" or "no" as to whether learning syntax, roots and prefixes, etc… helped in our future lives. Well, as an editor of books and magazines at publishing companies in Manhattan, Berkeley, and now Portland, my postcard would definitely say "YES!!!" Thanks, Mr. Pierce. Kim Koch, Class of 1982

Mrs. Enny Schultz
The class of 1961 held our 45th Class Reunion over this past weekend (October 14th, '06). We had a wonderful time meeting with our old friends and classmates and recalling those "good old days" spent at Wilson High!. Our class would like to speak out for Mrs. Enny Schultz! For many of us, she was "our favorite teacher of all time"! She was the best and we all send our sincere best wishes to her today! Thank you Mrs. Enny Schultz - you were and are the best! Members of Class of 1961

Ron Zaraza, Physics
We would like to pay tribute to a most outstanding Physics teacher at Wilson: Ron Zaraza. He clearly has a passion for his students and a dedication to teaching Physics. His love of science, along with his high level of expertise from 30 + years of teaching, is intellectually stimulating and exciting for students. As a senior at Wilson, our son is currently taking Physics at Lewis and Clark College, and has been more than prepared for this college level course. We are so saddened by his life-threatening illness and long hospitalization. We wish him relief from pain and as much good health as possible. We thank you, Ron Zaraza, for being such an inspiration for our son who is seriously considering pursuing Physics in college. Bruce and Susan Neben, parents of Abraham Neben, Class of 2007

Wonderful Teachers
Mr. Horton
Mr. Poeping
Mr. Hood
Mr. Meinicke
Mr. Stahlings
Ms. Ashley
Mrs. Bartel
Mr. Matousek
Mr. Lotz
Mrs. Meihoff

Special thanks to a few wonderful teachers who stand out in my memories of WHS. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with your students. Lesley Veltman Glasgow, Class of 1964

Stanley Stanton, Football Coach
I never knew Mr. Stanton at Wilson, but got acquainted with him in 1989 when we purchased boats that were alike except for color, and moored them at the same moorage on the Columbia River. It was a joy to get to know Mr. Stanton. He had great character which I'm sure he imparted to his students and athletes and friends. He was a very giving individual and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. It was fun to just hang out with him. He truly loved his boat and got many years of enjoyment out of cruising on our beautiful river. Gloria (Gradasoff) Galvin, Class of 1969

Mrs. Jean Chisholm, Biology and Biology II
Mrs. Chisholm was an amazing teacher! Anyone who ever took a class from her will remember her level of involvement with her subject as well as with her students. She was nurturing and inspiring. Thank you, Mrs. Chisholm for all you did for us! Love, Kathy Sullivan, Class of 1972

Merle Lotz, Choir Director
I was just at the choir reunion tonight and had a blast!! I wish to thank Merle and Pat Lotz for their hospitality at their house and it was SO much fun to see everyone and I even picked up a 50th Wilson shirt!!- way cool!! I would like to honor Merle as choir was such an important part of my life at Wilson. I was part of the european choir (I guess or so I was told that we were the only european choir) and our class of 72 was the best represented there tonight!! I enjoyed seeing Merle play for the Oregon Symphony for many years and would always tell those around me that he was my choir director. I have kept many of my friends from those years and Merle was instrumental in having such a talented group. I remember our many concerts through out Portland during our fundraising days. Thank you Merle for all of those great memories!! Jayne Bailey, Class of 1972

Mr. Murray and Mrs. Dodge
I'd like to offer a tribute to several inspirational teachers, specifically Mr. Murray who showed remarkable respect by addressing students in his classes as Mr. XXX and Miss YYY and Mrs. Dodge who never ceased to encourage students to strive for big goals and who definitely gave me an opportunity to grow and take chances. Regards, David Altman, Class of 1969

George Penk, Chemistry
After three semesters at Willamette University, I still have not found a professor that rivals George Penk. While it's true that I may never know all the professors on campus, our school is small enough that I have met, or heard about enough professors to know that he will probably always be my favorite teacher. While his Advanced Chemistry class may not be AP driven, I can honestly say that in the three semesters I've taken Chemistry (both Intro classes and one Organic) there's been something taught or talked about, that I've already learned because of his class. Beyond that, his classes were always on the border of fun and learning-mixing Chemistry puns and personal anecdotes with lessons always made them more enjoyable and something to look forward to. It may not have been the lesson that was looked forward to (a lot of the material was rather hard) but he always made it a little more fun and easier to pay attention and learn. His down to earth teaching style made harder concepts easier to grasp and he never went on before making sure we at least had some kind of handle on what we were doing.

Even more so than this, Penk was always friendly and interested in what was going on in our own lives. He wanted to hear about how our college process was going, how the cross country meet had gone last weekend and how we were doing under the weight of everything that was thrown upon us(especially as seniors). But also he related to us in such a way that it wasn't like talking to any other teacher about our lives and what was going on in theirs-the teacher-student relationship was there but it was as though it we were college students-much older and on a similar playing field. We talked of the world and it's going ons, in addition to what was happening at Wilson that day, week or month.

It is honestly much harder to describe Penk than I thought..It is something to be experienced, his charm, warmth and compassion for others, while being an awesome and fantastic Chemistry teacher. He will always be my favorite teacher and my friend, even though I may not be able to come back and see him as often as I would like. Suzanne Snell, Class of 2006

Ron Zaraza, Physics
The impact that one teacher, in this case Ron Zaraza, can have on a person's life is incalculable. He saw potential in me where I saw none, and refused to let me fail as hard as I tried. By not only making his classes fun and zany and the subject matter fascinating, but also making his students feel like an important part of something special, he created within his students not just a desire to learn, but to excel. Twenty years after the fact, I can recall vividly events and lessons that he emblazoned on my mind. Amazingly enough, I was just hired for a coveted position that I never should have gotten based on experience, but based on knowledge that Mr. Zaraza instilled in me two decades ago. So profound is the significance of this iconic educator that I am fairly certain that, unbeknownst to the general scientific and mathematic community at large, the origin of the Cartesian Coordinate System remains fixed somewhere within the hallowed halls of Wilson High School to this day. Roger "What If?" Penn, Class of 1986

Wilson Teachers Linda Graves (English)
Susan Parker (Photography)
Susan Theissen (Ceramics)
Cora Crossen (Math)
Eleanor Flores (Spanish)
Kathy Diamond (English)
Tammy O'Neill (Senior English)
Manuel Espinoza (Spanish)
Joanna Coleman (Spanish)
Ms. York (Health)
Ms. Potestio (Economics/Political Science)

My name is Thamer Khan I am a senior at Wilson and I would like to send a tribute to Linda Graves(English), Susan Parker (Photography), Susan Theissen (Ceramics), Cora Crossen (Math), Eleanor Flores (Spanish), Kathy Diamond (English), Tammy O'Neill (Senior English), Manuel Espinoza (Spanish 1-2), Joanna Coleman (Spanish), Ms. York (Health) and Ms. Potestio (Economics/Political Science). First of all the teachers that I listed are the greatest teachers of all because they made me feel at home, made it feel like this was my home and I don't want to leave it, because of their kindness and their warmth in their hearts. They always know to make me feel better when I'm down. In all they bring happiness in my life. They are like family to me, they are really kind at heart and really cool, and I don't know how to explain anymore but, in all they have changed my life and made me into a better person. Thamer Khan, Class of 2007

Becky Thompson, Choir Director
Without a doubt, the one Wilson teacher who made the biggest difference in my life was Becky Thompson, our choir director. Five days a week, she taught a zero-period ensemble class and was at the school before seven o'clock. Then, in first-period, she directed a choir which consisted of nearly 100 teenagers, many of which were very sleepy and often very unruly. Once they left, she had her Freshman girls choir. And then, at lunch, she alternated directing a men's ensemble and a woman's chorus. She spent countless afternoons and evenings working as the music director each spring for the school's annual musical. She inspired me, she pushed me to the very limit of my singing abilities. And she genuinely cared about her students. Becky Thompson was a tremendous asset to Wilson High School. My future children should be so lucky as to have a teacher like her! Troy Pickard, Class of 2000

Linda Graves, Home Economics
I would like to thank Linda Graves for the kindness and support she gave me during my years at Wilson (1984-1987). After transferring from a very small school, Wilson was tremendously overwhelming. Mrs. Graves (can I call her Linda now that I am an adult ?!) recognized this and went out of her way to make me feel at home and helped me find my way.

At the time she taught 'home ec' oriented classes and whatever she taught, I took. Her warmth gave me strength and courage to - not only get through my awkward teen years - but to honor my slightly offbeat creative spirit. I credit my life's creative journey- which has been rich with art, architecture, dance and travel to Linda. Without her encouragement I would never have had the courage to 'live outside the box'.

If a teacher's success is based on the depth by which they touch their student's lives - I think it's fair to say Linda has been wildly successful. Jenifer (Steele) DeMellier, Class of 1987

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