Spotlight – Q & A
Where were you born? Nampa, Idaho.
Where did you go to school? My family moved to Clarkston, Washington when I was about six years old. I grew up and went to school in Clarkston.
Did you always live in Clarkston? No, in eighth and ninth grade we moved to an isolated American copper mining town deep in a remote area of Peru. It was an American school in a very small village.
How did mom and dad break the news about moving to Peru? One morning Dad said, “What do you think girls, we’re moving to Peru.”
Did you like Peru? Yes, it opened up my world. I learned not everyone lives or thinks the same way American’s do. I also faced discrimination for being different.
What was the name of the town? Toquepala, Peru.
What were the living arrangements in Toquepala? The company provided a small house and furniture.
Was it safe living in Peru? Back in the 1980’s Peru was not always safe, we had guards in camp who carried machine guns.
What did you do for fun? Fun was limited for a ninth grader. We would swim, read, hike and play games.
Did you travel to other places in South America? Yes, we had an amazing time traveling to Chile and seeing Machu Picchu.
Did you take up any hobbies in Peru? I took up running with my Dad and ran cross-country throughout high school. I still run every day before school.
When did you move back to Clarkston? We moved back for tenth grade.
Where did you graduate from high school? Clarkston High School, class of 1991 – the Bantams.
What did your parents do for work? Both my parents were teachers.
Does teaching run in your family? Yes, my mom (Susan Gentry) and dad (Jim Gentry) were teachers. In addition, my father’s three brothers are teachers, and all their wives are teachers too.
What grade(s) did your mom and dad teach? Mom taught kindergarten, which is great because I bounce ideas off her all the time. My dad was a fourth grade teacher, and then went into library.
Is anyone else in your family a teacher? Yes, my sister is a second grade teacher.
It sounds like you grew up in and around school, is that right? Yes it is. I grew up hearing about conferences, report cards – school was a part of everyday life.
Did your parents want you to be a teacher? Growing up my parents tried to steer me away from being a teacher. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Speech/Language Pathology before getting my elementary education certification.
Did you start your career as a teacher? No, I started in speech pathology, but was yearning for the sense of community being a teacher brings.
What does “sense of community” mean? It means the students and I are in this together. We are going to climb this mountain together. I like using the “mountain” and the “Little Engine That Could” as ideas to help us achieve goals.
How long did you work as a speech pathologist? After one year working as a speech pathologist, I went back to school and got my teaching certificate. I started teaching then had my three children.
Are your kids in Longview schools? Yes, two graduated from Mark Morris and one is a junior in high school.
What is the most fulfilling part of your job? Seeing the growth in our students. To see a kid go from not knowing how to hold a pencil at the beginning of the year to writing their opinion by the end of the year is amazing. To see the kids believe in themselves.
What are the characteristics of a great teacher? You need to be patient and persevere. When you feel like you cannot give anymore – you have to give more. Great teachers are flexible. Flexible to see when something is not working and change to something that does.
What else does it take to be a great teacher? An overarching quality of an effective teacher is a strong work ethic. Teaching is such hard work.
What is the best part of being a teacher? Having a student’s face light up when they look at you and say, “I did it!”
What is the biggest challenge in teaching kindergarten? Meeting student’s needs. They all have individual needs. Social emotional and academic needs are sometimes high. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but I am optimistic that the kids can learn.
How would you sum up your teaching style? Many teachers I know teach with effortless grace. I am certainly not one of those teachers. I just try to work as hard as I can with the amount of time I’m given. We have steep mountains to climb in terms of learning. I see great potential in our students!
Do you have a positive outlook on the future? I do. Meeting the kid’s needs is a challenge, but our kids have a lot of potential – they can do amazing things.
What are some of the thing you enjoy outside of work? I love running, it’s my mental release. I run four miles every morning and sometimes do longer runs on the weekend.
Have you run in races? Yes, over the years I have run numerous races. Half marathons are my favorite. I did run the Portland Marathon for my 40th birthday.
Is running a marathon hard? Yes, but honestly, teaching kindergarten is harder than running a marathon.
Where did you go to college? Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho and Central Washington University.
What is your favorite food? Gelato. I absolutely love gelato. In addition, I love bagels. I eat bagels all the time.
What flavors of gelato do you like? I usually like to sample flavors – but pistachio gelato sounds wonderful.
Have you ever had a New York bagel? Yes, my parents took my sister and me to Morocco. On our way to Morocco, we went through New York City and ate great bagels.
What is Morocco like? Morocco was like nothing I’d ever seen, a total sensory overload of sights and smells. The craziest thing was crossing the street – they do not stop for pedestrians.
What other things do you enjoy doing? I love hiking, which we do as a family. I also love baking and reading.
Can you tell us a hiking story? Yes, my son Gabe and I backpacked around Mt. Hood – we had a blast. The hike was 40 miles and pretty arduous. On the first day, we were so excited we walked 19 miles. The next day we were feeling great and hiked the remaining 21 miles. The hike was tough, but we did it.
Did the hike teach you anything? Yes, you can do more than you think you can.
What do you like to bake? Fresh bread. Getting my hands in the dough and kneading – I love it. My favorite recipe is an old farm style bread.
How often do you read? I read every night. Historical fiction is my favorite, like Jane Austen.
What is your favorite color? Yellow.
What is your favorite number? 100. One hundred is a hallmark number for kindergartners.