As another group of high school seniors graduate and move on to the next step, Generation College would like to thank those teachers who helped them in their educational pursuits. Each year for the past seven years, teachers in the Hermiston School District have been recognized by the seniors in Generation College for helping them stay focused on education and excellence.
Generation College is a club at Hermiston High School that provides support to those students who are the first in their family to attend college. The graduating seniors from Generation College recognize the hard work and inspiration of those teachers who have helped them realize their dreams by awarding them the “Geny.”
This year four teachers from elementary to high school were presented with awards. Two of them are former Armand Larive Middle School teachers, Robert Greybeck and Neely Kirwan. Greybeck, now at Hermiston High School, was nominated for his tolerance and patience in working with middle school students. Senior Kain Garcia-Sandoval, who will be attending the University of Oregon in the fall, said, “In middle school I remember seeing him work with students who would cause trouble, and in return they would purposely try to make him mad just to get under his skin; however, they simply couldn’t do it. Mr. Greybeck is a teacher that believes there is good in students regardless of their behavior.”
Kirwan, now principal at Sandstone Middle School, was remembered for her excellence in the classroom as a science teacher. Senior Gardenia Jaime, who will be attending Western Oregon University in the fall, described Kirwan as “the best science teacher I ever had. She taught me to never give up and to always keep pursuing my goals. I don’t think there was a time I ever saw her give up on me or my fellow classmates. I realized how much she truly and absolutely cared about every one of her students.”
For the first time, a high school teacher, who has not previously taught at a middle or elementary school, was nominated for the Geny award. Senior Taylor Holwegner, who will be attending Linfield College in the fall, felt very strongly about the impact that Chris Demianew has had on her this year. Mr. Demianew “has taught me what it truly means to be responsible. He has showed me how to be a leader and helped me to feel confident and stand by my decisions. He made me realize that there isn’t always going to be someone to hold my hand and help me through everything in life.”
And at Highland Hills Elementary School, Patrick Temple was recognized by senior Gabriela Villegas, who will be attending Pacific University in the fall, for his kindness and compassion. “When I was enrolled in Mr. Temple’s class, I knew he was a new teacher to the district; so, I didn’t know him. Once I settled myself into his classroom, I knew this teacher was one who, even to this day, would be one of my favorites. I remember his teaching was filled with lots of enthusiasm. When I reached my early teenage years and had a rough time with my studies, I reflected back to the time when Mr. Temple helped me with material I didn’t understand and explained it to me with patience. He believed in his students and set a great example for us to pursue our education.”
“This being my 8th year as a classroom teacher, I have long reconciled myself to the fact that teaching is a brief participation in a much longer process,” said Temple.” Each June I do not have the satisfaction of sending away completed “products”, but rather I say farewell to young people who continue a journey growing far beyond our brief time together at Highland Hills Elementary. To receive this nod of appreciation from a former student on the doorstep of her adult opportunities and goals is simply wonderful… I count it a blessing to work alongside many creative educators to have a positive impact on the dreams and abilities of young people. This has made my year.”
The “Geny” symbolizes the teamwork it takes for students to reach their dreams. While it takes great individual commitment and hard work to succeed, everyone needs a helping hand to make it through those challenging moments. Generation College hopes the recipients of the Geny award recognize the tremendous impact they have had on these students and continue to inspire future generations on to college. They also hope the award itself will sit upon the desk of dedicated teachers and spark many more conversations about the college process.
The Geny award has been presented by Generation College since 2006. Previous Geny award winners are: Lynne Hamblin, Shari Wick, Lynn Franz, Kimo Gabriel, Aaron Lind x 2, Delia Wallis, Todd Sprong, Traci Reed, Bob Mansfield, Ann Doherty, Mark Douglass x 2, Linda Tucker, Randy Smith, Stacie (Johnson) Roberts, Sharon Dunlop, Susan Thurman, Andrea Follett, Robert Doherty, Brenda Appleton, BJ Wilson, Julie Hatch, Cori Applegate, and John Blake.