A passion for science and students

Sutherlin educator named Regional Teacher of the Year

Congratulations are due to Sutherlin Middle School science teacher Janel Sorenson, who in May was named Douglas’ Regional Teacher of the Year.

Sorenson’s passion for science and engaging her seventh-grade students makes her a champion for STEAM education in Douglas County.

“Janel is an expert at finding creative ways for her students to explore the world around them,” said Gwen Soderberg-Chase, director for Douglas County Partners for Student Success and the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub. “She is so deserving of this recognition.”

Sorenson, who also teaches robotics, said she enjoys teaching science and encouraging students to think critically and ask questions. 

“You can engage kids easily with the sciences, and technology and engineering is just part of their world, so the more you can incorporate that the better,” she said.

Sorenson was one of 13 Regional Teachers of the Year around Oregon who were nominated by students, colleagues, administrators, friends or family members to apply for the award. She was selected by a panel of regional representatives, organized by Douglas Education Service District. In September, the Oregon Department of Education will announce which of the Regional Teachers of the Year will be honored as the 2020 Oregon Teacher of the Year.

Sutherlin Middle School Principal Jon Martz said Sorenson always puts kids first.

“Janel does a wonderful job of making science fun for young inquisitive minds,” he said. “It is always a fun surprise to walk into the learning environment she creates. There is frequently something wiggling in a terrarium, an experiential touch opportunity, or technology devices utilized by our kids. This award could not go to a more deserving teacher, and I am proud of her.”

Sorenson credits her fellow teachers and Sutherlin School District staff members for working together to support student achievement.

“Every school employee supports the work of classroom teachers — that’s how we can shine!” she said.

She said science is a vital subject because it explains how the world works as well as how we impact our environment.

“Science is how your body works, science is how your brain works, science is everything,” she said. “It’s tremendously important that we have a scientifically literate student population.”

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