Position: Options and Proficiency Based Learning Teacher
School: Century High School
School District: Hillsboro School District
City, State: Hillsboro, OR
Jeff Gower was nominated by his principal, Martha Guise.
Mr. Gower is the Century High School Options and Proficiency Based Learning Teacher. In this role, he puts the well-being of all students in the forefront, works to ensure equitable access and outcomes for all her students, and is a resource and model for district Options programs and teachers.
In his role as Options teacher, Mr. Gower manages over 300 students during the school year in the Options program. The program is made up of online, offline and proficiency-based learning that gives students many options to graduate.
Mr. Gower works with content area advisors who approve strong standards for the program. He holds classes every day, creating a quiet learning environment and building trusting relationships with the students he sees.
"Mr. Gower cares about building relationships and trust, assessing student abilities, and encouraging students to learn," Guise said. "His patience is infinite, which is vital. He knows these students are dealing with many other challenges, and he knows that it can take many attempts to find success. Jeff’s students will come to school to work for him, when few other adults can help them find success."
Mr. Gower finds ways to help students attain credits and achieve a high school diploma. He has developed a strong system for summer school, working with at-risk underclassmen and seniors who might not graduate. He keeps careful records, works closely with counselors and administrators, and helps students advocate with other teachers to find success.
"Our school attained a 91% graduation rate last year, and Mr. Gower's work was part of the reason for that number. Every student can find a place in his program. He works with me to find a way to celebrate every time a senior attains their diploma, and they can feel that sense of achievement and know that they can overcome obstacles to achieve a goal. Mr. Gower is coach, counselor, teacher and sometimes a gentle voice of reason, coaxing students back to school," Guise said.
Mr. Gower's program has been a model for his district for a number of years. He has served as a trainer for the online learning platform, and role model and mentor for the other options teachers in the district. His program and job description was used to redesign the position for the district, and his advice was used to develop training and support.for new teachers.
Additionally, his district has hosted several administrators to talk to Mr. Gower about details of his philosophy and keep students engaged in meaningful learning. This year, with additional supports, he helped interview and select several staff members to grow that student outreach and engage more students in getting support in academics, attendance and self-advocacy.
"I have known Jeff Gower for 20 years. I know his kids, his spouse, and I have worked with him as a teacher, assistant principal, and as the principal of Century High School," Guise said. "There are very few people in this profession with as true a heart for teaching and students as Jeff. I am deeply honored to work with an educator of his caliber."
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