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2018 Teacher of the Year

Who remembers middle school?! Whether you’re a student, teacher or parent, middle school can have as many twists and turns as a trip from Anywhere, Oregon to the Oregon Coast!

Thanks to 20 years of helping create and sustain the Japanese immersion K-12 program in Portland Public Schools, Mt. Tabor Middle School teacher Matt Bacon-Brenes makes the trip through middle school memorable and fun. His vision for the program has also continued to shape its success in the community.

Because of Matt’s outstanding efforts in the classroom, the Oregon Department of Education named Matt Oregon’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

At Mt. Tabor Middle School, Matt facilitates an annual, two-week long Japanese research residency trip for 8th grade students and chaperones. On the trip, students engage in and research themes around Japanese culture, history and social science. They use surveys, interviews and other data-gathering techniques to learn more about the deep culture and history of the Pacific Island nation. Following this life-changing experience, students produce a capstone research project that captures their findings.

"Our world is changing at an ever-increasing clip,” Matt said. “Prompting our students to think critically and creatively about how to manage those changes and participate meaningfully in community and in democracy is how we will foster citizens and leaders who can effectively take our world in a more inclusive, safe and peaceful direction.”

The Oregon Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education in partnership with the Oregon Lottery. The Lottery provides a $5,000 cash award to the Teacher of the Year and a matching $5,000 award to the teacher's school.

Dept. of Education

Dept. of Education