CRESWELL—Kendra Anderson grew up in a town a lot like Creswell.
The daughter of educators, she grew up curious, always learning and taking courses. At the start, teaching was the last thing she thought she’d do.
“I knew I liked working with kids and I always liked school — I still do,” Anderson said. “My mom always laughs because it wasn’t a shocker. I was giving my sister homework when she was four.”
After working as a wildland firefighter, she started coaching JV volleyball in Lakeview, not far from her hometown.
“After the season was over, my players asked me what I was going to teach,” she said. “And I thought – oh, no, I’m not patient enough to teach. They really encouraged me to try it.”
Not long after, she earned her masters degree in education and applied for a job in Creswell — a little town she couldn’t even point out on a map.
Last week, Anderson, social studies teacher at Creswell Middle School, was chosen as the Teacher of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Oregon. She’s been an educator and coach in Creswell for 25 years.
“I grew up in a small town,” Anderson said.“I had a ton of opportunities going to a small school. For me, it’s fun to provide an opportunity for my students to be proud of going to a smaller school.”
Anderson tries to teach her middle schoolers hands-on skills that not only apply information being taught in their other classes, but skills that they can use later in life as well. Students in her class can join any one of the numerous programs she’s spearheaded — like the Classroom Law Project, Future Business Leaders of America or Future Health Occupations program.
“The big part for me is really letting them know how to participate in civic life,” she said. “They are going to be impacted by it as an adult and they need to understand how it’s relevant now, and how it’s changed.”
She continually finds new opportunities for her students to grow and learn, by using field trips, career and financial education.
“Mrs. Anderson goes above and beyond to support the students and community in Creswell,” said Julie Johansen, CMS principal. “She demonstrates an amazing work ethic, positive attitude, and love for all things Creswell. She provides students many opportunities that extend learning beyond the classroom. She and the other staff members make my job easy because of their work ethic and love of kids.”
Anderson is also a coach at CMS, leading the volleyball, basketball and track teams for the school. As an athlete herself, coaching is a source of pride for her.
“Sports are a big part of who I am,” she said. “So it’s great to be able to share that with the kids.”
Kendra received the award at the VFW banquet last month and competed with other teachers nominated from the 13 VFW districts in Oregon. For the second year in a row, a teacher from Creswell Middle School has been named the Teacher of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Oregon.
“Over the past four years I have developed a good working relationship with the principal and teachers at CMS promoting the VFW Patriot Pen writing contest, but have also asked about worthy teachers. This year, Mrs. Anderson is that teacher,” said Bob Beck, youth chair for Creswell VFW Post 4039 and for District 13.
Kendra easily spends 10-12 hours a day, even on weekends, ensuring that students have engaging, standards-aligned and culturally appropriate lessons to learn each day at school.
“She gives back to the community by selflessly helping students not only make gains on social studies standards in the classroom and athletic gains on the court/field,” Johansen said. “But more importantly, she also helps them become better citizens who are capable of getting a job after high school and participating in our society.”