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AMAZING EDUCATORS: Teacher Inspires Both Young And Old


AMAZING EDUCATORS: Teacher Inspires Both Young And Old

At St. Helens High School, Rachael Sara not only devotes her attention to high-school-age students nearing the end of their public education journey, but also to toddlers who are just beginning their education.

Sara is the Early Childhood Education, Introduction to Education and Human Development teacher at St. Helens High.

“I primarily work with high school students, but I work very closely with our Cubs Corner Childcare, which is here on campus,” Sara said. “My high school students who go through the Early Childhood Education pathway are able to work with our toddlers and infant students here as childcare teacher assistants.”

Sara had the inclination to get into education as a youngster.

“I feel like, as a child, I was always really interested in becoming a teacher,” Sara said. “I would play school a lot with my friends, and I always loved school. I just wasn’t quite sure what subject area I wanted to teach.”

Sara eventually took as many family consumer science classes in high school as she could and developed great relationships with these teachers.

In college, “I was never one of those college students who changed majors or minors,” she said, noting she chose Eastern Illinois University and was able to start her teaching career after college.

Sara, who lives in Portland, recalled, “When I was applying for a teaching job, they were few and far between, and I ended up getting a job in Davenport, Iowa, that was about a three, three-and-a-half-hour drive from my parent’s home, where I was living.”

Sara continued, “I just moved out there, and I didn’t know anybody … I lived out there and taught there for five years.”

Eventually, Sara’s husband found a job that brought them to Oregon.

Settling in at St. Helens High School, Sara said, “I primarily teach high school students, ninth through 12th grade, but I also work with our toddlers and infants who are here on campus … they have a classroom, the littles, and they often will come into my classroom and mingle with my high school students. I will go over there and be with them sometimes.”

At times, Sara and the little ones will go to the preschool in Columbia City.

“I often tell people I have the best of both worlds,” she said. “I really enjoy working with our infants to preschool age. I love preschool age so much, but my true passion is working with high schoolers and sharing with them my passion … It’s fantastic that I get to double dip in that.”

The childcare at St. Helens High benefits the community.

“A lot of people who work in the district pay for childcare through our Early Learning Department in the district,” Sara said. “We do have children that are here on the high school campus. We had a preschool class before the construction happened, so my hope is that we’ll be able to bring preschool back to the site, as well.”

Sara added, “They also give the high school students an opportunity to learn from them through observations and through interactions. My high school students plan and implement learning activities for children of those different ages. It’s a lot of hands-on, work-based learning opportunities that our high school students get to experience.”

At the end of each day, Sara relishes the opportunity to help students, both young and high-school age.

“I think it’s fantastic, and I think it makes me, as an educator, a more well-rounded educator,” Sara said. “I do really enjoy the little ones, but I’m happy when I can give them back to their teacher.”

Sara said the young toddler-age students enjoy mingling with the high schoolers.

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