Prineville native stays close to home to teach

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 21. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – Michelle Powers has wanted to be a teacher since she was “like 7 years old.”

And when she decided to start her teaching career, she didn’t look farther than Prineville, where she was born and raised.

Powers, 22, started working as an educational assistant at Cecil Sly Elementary School about two years ago, after hearing from a family friend about a job opening in the school’s reading program. Now she is a student teacher in a fourth-grade class while finishing the final semester of credits for her B.A. in Liberal Studies and Education.

“When I was a senior (in high school), like all seniors, all kids from a small town want to get out of there,” said Powers, who went to Prineville’s Crooked River Elementary School, Crook County Middle School and graduated from Crook County High School in 2002. “I can relate to what the kids are going through here.”

She added that she decided to stay in Prineville – from where she commuted to Oregon State University-Cascades Campus – toward the end of college.

“I liked the community and the schools here,” she said.

Powers has been student teaching part time since January and will be in the classroom full time starting in April. She will teach 2 1/2 hours a day on her own and be in charge for one three-week period.

So far, she has been helping out in the classroom and teaching a variety of subjects for about 1 1/2 hours each day, said Gretchen Stack, the teacher with whom Powers works. She also designed a language arts project about the Oregon Trail that combined reading and writing exercises.

Stack said she thinks Powers will be a “fantastic teacher.”

“I think that she has a distinct advantage because she’s worked as an educational assistant, so she’s familiar with working with children,” she said. “She knows to grab those quiet ones and keep them with her.”

She added that being from Prineville is also an advantage for Powers.

“It helps a lot,” Stack said. “She has knowledge of lots of the families and she has background with many, many people … it’s rather nice, because she has a little heads-up.”

Ashley Bond, one of Stack’s fourth-graders, said she thinks it’s “pretty cool” that Powers grew up in the area.

“She’s a really nice teacher,” Ashley, 9, said. “I just really hope she gets a job (here).”

Kila Moies, 9, agreed.

“It would actually be cool to have her as a substitute,” Kila said. “I’m hoping that it will be fun with her for the rest of the year because it’s been fun for her and it’s been fun for us, too.”

And Aaron Drake, 10, added that having Powers in the classroom has been very helpful.

“I think it’s nice that she’s putting her time and effort into working with us,” Aaron said.

Powers said that her first choice would be to find a teaching job in Prineville next year.

“(It helps the students) to see that people from here care about here and that they want to make a difference locally,” Powers said. “It’s not always about what’s outside, but it’s about what’s here, too.”

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