Tumalo Community School Principal Samuel Platt named OnPoint Credit Union’s first ‘Gold Star Educator of the Year’
He'll have his mortgage or rent paid for a year; school gets $2,500
PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — OnPoint Community Credit Union announced Friday the four winners of the 2023 OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education Educator of the Year award, including the principal of Tumalo Community School:
- Samuel Platt, principal of Tumalo Community School in Tumalo, Ore. Platt is the first recipient of the Gold Star Educator award, a category for pre-kindergarten teachers, school counselors, substitute teachers, librarians, or school administrators.
- Caryn Anderson, fourth grade teacher at Abernethy Elementary School in Portland, Ore.
- Lucas Dix, sixth through eighth grade media arts and journalism teacher at Rowe Middle School in Milwaukie, Ore.
- Willie Williams, ninth through 12th grade history and economics teacher at Roosevelt High School in Portland, Ore.
The four Educators of the Year will have their mortgage or rent paid for one year and receive $2,500 for each of their schools. In addition, the four runners-up will receive $5,000 for themselves and $1,500 for each of their schools.
“Educators have a profound impact on their students, as well as their entire community,” said Rob Stuart, President and Chief Executive Officer, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “This year’s Educators of the Year respect their students as individuals and create educational experiences that truly connect and inspire them. We are honored to recognize these educators and know they will continue to make a difference for their students and our region.”
In the 14 years since the OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education campaign launched, it has awarded more than $650,000 in prizes to 313 local educators and schools. The 2023 campaign awarded an additional $193,000 to 21 more deserving public and private K-12 educators and schools.
2023 Educators of the Year
The four winners of the 2023 OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education Educator of the Year awards are:
Gold Star Educator of the Year – Samuel Platt
Principal, Tumalo Community School, Tumalo Ore.
Samuel Platt’s energy, love, and dedication have helped bring the Tumalo Community School to life.
Platt championed the district’s first music program in 2022, his first year on the job. The program included a new music teacher and the elementary school’s first-ever concert. Platt also secured funding and staffing for eight after-school clubs in one week.
Platt has quickly immersed himself in student life and gained an innate understanding of his school’s needs. He has created initiatives such as the Comeback Kids, which supports faculty with tools that catch students up after two years of remote learning. Platt recognizes every student’s birthday and their accomplishments over the school’s loudspeaker. He also created the Kindness Awards assembly to honor students who have gone above and beyond to show kindness.
K-5 Educator of the Year – Caryn Anderson
Fourth grade, Abernethy Elementary School, Portland, Ore.
Caryn Anderson balances individualized student attention with an inclusive classroom environment. She builds relationships with students and their families, and tailors interventions to each child’s social, emotional and academic needs. Anderson’s peers say she gives every student a voice, and parents say she catches students who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
Anderson’s emphasis on inclusion features books by authors of color and rich discussions about social injustice and racism. Her students learn to identify their biases and to see themselves as change makers. Her students also see her as an ally when they need to share personal information with their families and friends.
Anderson supports her students with tools, such as color-coded charts, silencing headphones, weighted pillows and sit n’ wiggle cushions. Anderson’s thoughtfulness creates a safe environment for students to ask questions, make bold responses and be curious. Her dedication earned her a scholarship from the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund.
6–8 Educator of the Year – Lucas Dix
Sixth through eighth grade media arts and journalism, Rowe Middle School, Milwaukie, Ore.
To understand Lucas Dix’s influence at Milwaukie’s Rowe Middle School, you’ll need to watch one of the school news team’s music videos. In them, kids of every background dance, laugh, and create together—with none of the self-consciousness you might expect from preteens.
The Shamrock News video topics range from social-emotional development (Teach 100) to grammar (Comma Dance). The videos go viral, garnering more than 40,000 views, news coverage, and a keynote speaking role for Dix at the Association for Middle Education annual conference.
Dix is a champion for positive school culture. He created the Rowe Zine, a magazine featuring writing pieces from language arts classes. He invented the 1 Million Word Club to encourage reading. He brought back school dances, and revitalized the track and cross-country teams.
9-12 Educator of the Year – Willie Williams
Ninth through 12th grade history and economics, Roosevelt High School, Portland, Ore.
Willie Williams brings the spirit of community, respect, and inclusivity to Roosevelt High School. His curriculum elevates underrepresented groups and gets students thinking critically about history and justice—examples include lessons on the Black Panther Party and North Portland history.
However, his dedication goes beyond the classroom. Williams cooks Louisiana gumbo for more than 1,500 people at Roosevelt’s annual cultural celebration. As the football coach, he keeps his players fed with nourishing meals in the summer.
Williams is the Upward Bound mentor and Black student union advisor who stepped into the school’s interim athletic director role mid-year, the classroom leader who greets his students with “Good morning, family,” the educator who encourages critical thinking on electoral systems and immigration policy, and the role model who inspires students to join and lead social justice movements.
2023 Educator of the Year Runners-up
OnPoint will also award a $5,000 cash prize to each of the following 2023 runners-up and make a $1,500 donation to their schools for resources and supplies.
Gold Star Educator of the Year Runner-up – Darcy Rudnick
Library Media Specialist, Buckman Elementary School, Portland, Ore.
K–5 Educator of the Year Runner-up – Tiffany Koyama Lane
Third grade, Sunnyside Environmental School, Portland, Ore.
6–8 Educator of the Year Runner-up – Nicholas Krissie
Sixth through eighth grade science, Lincoln Middle School, Oakland, Ore.
9-12 Educator of the Year Runner-up – Dustin Long
Ninth through 12th grade computer science, Gladstone High School, Gladstone School District, Gladstone, Ore.
Five Schools Receive Community Builder Awards
The 2023 OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education also awarded one Oregon school $5,000 and four Oregon schools $2,000 in Community Builder grants for special projects that enrich their communities. Click here to read about this year's winners, which OnPoint announced on May 10.
Honoring Founders' Legacy of Excellence in Education
Founded by 16 schoolteachers in 1932, OnPoint continues to honor its legacy today by improving access to quality education for everyone. Click here to learn more.
ABOUT ONPOINT COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION
OnPoint Community Credit Union is the largest credit union in Oregon, serving over 516,000 members and with assets of $8.9 billion. Founded in 1932, OnPoint Community Credit Union's membership is available to anyone who lives or works in one of 28 Oregon counties (Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler, and Yamhill) and two Washington counties (Skamania and Clark) and their immediate family members. More information is available at www.onpointcu.com or 503-228-7077 or 800-527-3932.