Gordon Honored as State Biology Teacher of the Year


Clarion photo Ariel Harmon

Biology teacher Brenda Gordon was honored Oct. 31 after school in the library in recognition for winning the state Biology teacher of the year.

By Mirabella Miller, Reporter

Brenda Gordon was overjoyed when she received the phone call.

“I believe my exact words when Dr. Katy Wagner called me in July were ‘We won! Oh my goodness, we won!’” Gordon said. “I was very excited not just for myself, but for Cleveland and my students.”

Gordon was presented with the Oregon Outstanding Biology Teacher Award by the National Association of Biology Teachers on Oct. 31 in the Cleveland library. The ceremony was attended by Gordon’s loved ones and many Cleveland teachers. Additionally, assistant superintendent Antonio Lopez was there, along with Mike Rosen and Scott Bailey, members of the PPS Board of Education.

“This award represents recognition and appreciation for continuous years of teaching biological science to prepare students for higher education,” said Gordon, who has been at Cleveland for 20 years.

The award, which has been given annually since 1961, identifies a teacher from each state that has made considerable contributions to their students as well as the profession. Candidates are judged on experience, teaching ability, and cooperation with the school and community. Additionally, for a candidate to be considered, a major portion of their career must have been devoted to teaching biology.

Gordon underwent a rigorous application process to even be considered. “In a lot of ways, it was easier applying for college than it was applying for the award,” she said.

The application included a complete educational record, descriptions of all professional and community involvement, a personal essay, and a video of Gordon teaching, as well as four letters of recommendation.

Students are happy that Gordon is being recognized for her accomplishments in the classroom. “I think she’s deserving of this award because she is a really good teacher…she’s always there if you need to ask questions and she’s really organized,” sophomore Stephanie Singh said.

“My favorite thing about Ms. Gordon is just her presence in the classroom. She’s so upbeat. She always challenges us, which helps me gain a better understanding,” Singh added.

Junior Mia Johnson echoed Singh’s praise of Gordon. “Ms. Gordon is extremely knowledgeable about science, and she’s really passionate and dedicated.”

Something that distinguished Gordon as a candidate was her continued practice in scientific research in addition to teaching. She has participated in the Partners in Science program at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, where she conducted extensive research on female fertility preservation. Recently, a research paper she co-authored was accepted for publication to the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics.

To celebrate her accomplishment, Gordon will attend the 2017 Honors Luncheon on Saturday, Nov. 11, in St. Louis, Missouri hosted by the NABT. There she will receive gift certificates from Carolina Biological Supply Company as well as resources from other sponsors.

“I feel very fortunate,” Gordon said. “It would be golden if every science teacher could experience a big win like this at some point.in their career.”