Moving on after 40 years
A teacher who has been educating Lake Oswego students for forty years will end her impressive tenure this year. Christie Ford, who has been a teacher in Lake Oswego since 1979, will finish her career at Hallinan Elementary at the end of the school year.
Ford's time in the Lake Oswego School District began at Lakewood Elementary as a fourth grade teacher during the school's first year in operation. Since then, she has taught second through sixth grade at Hallinan, Bryant, Oak Creek and Uplands, before returning to Hallinan in 2004. She will end her career teaching fifth grade.
Of Ford's many accomplishments throughout her career, she is especially proud of her role in bringing outdoor school to Lake Oswego students.
"Before I arrived in LO in the late '70s, a program had been tried for one school year and then abandoned," Ford said. She joined the Tryon Creek Board of Directors in the 80s, and worked with another board member and Forest Hills parent to write a week-long outdoor school program for Forest Hills sixth graders, held during the day at Tryon Creek and staffed by parents.
"When it worked, and other schools wanted to join, we moved it to Mary S. Young Park (in West Linn)," Ford said. The program continued to grow, and Ford negotiated contracts with OMSI to bring further resources to students. Now, thanks to her efforts, sixth graders in the district visit outdoor school sites throughout the state each year.
Ford's favorite grades to teach are fourth and fifth grade, because of the students' curiosity and agency. "They're very curious at that age, and they can act on their curiosity, do their own research and teach their classmates," she said.
Teaching at Hallinan was a special perk. "I will miss the caring and incredible graciousness of Hallinan students. Never before have I been in a school where children thanked me at the end of teaching periods and at the end of each day for instructing them," Ford said.
In addition to being a student favorite, Ford is also popular with her other teachers. "Christie will be greatly missed by the students, parents and staff at Hallinan. She is a masterful teacher who connects with the students in her class on a daily basis and is always looking for ways to enhance their learning," said Karen Musgrove, a fourth grade teacher at Hallinan. "Christie supports the staff with her invaluable knowledge, experience and compassion. Christie is truly an advocate for all, and she will be dearly missed, especially by me."
Jan Franz, a first grade teacher at Hallinan, will also miss working with Ford. "Christie is an incredible wealth of information on so many levels. She has been an incredible mentor for me as I navigated my first year," she said. "Her students and families genuinely love her and I have witnessed many tearful reunions of students who
have come back to see their favorite teacher and to let her know the impact she has
had on their lives. That is the hope all good teachers have: to have one student whose life you left a mark on. She has heard that message many times over."
Ford said there are many things that she will miss once she retires. "I love discovering the strengths and personalities of each new student and working with each to help them realize their capabilities. I love researching and creating new and better ways to teach curriculum," she said. "Most of all, I love creating a little world where my students and I can share discoveries, achievements, humor and appreciation of each other. There are parts of me that are only exhibited in my role as a teacher, and I will miss having that opportunity every day."
Ford does have plans for retirement, though. She plans to travel with friends and family, visit her daughter in New York, study French, learn to knit, go to the beach, volunteer and reconnect with old friends. "I already have a month-long trip to France in the works for next April," she said.
Ford also plans to return to Hallinan to help teach some of her favorite units.
If you would like to celebrate Ford's retirement, there will be a party in her honor May 29 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Hallinan's library, 16800 Hawthorne Drive.
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