The Bay Area Chamber of Commerce announces Excellence in Education awards

January 23, 2020

COOS BAY, Ore. – The Bay Area Chamber of Commerce believes that great education and a great economy go hand in hand. Thriving businesses support a healthy education system, and graduates who are ready for work or college strengthen our local businesses and community.

The Chamber has a goal of building bridges between business and education throughout the Bay Area. To that end, the Chamber hands out three awards annually, open to educators from pre‐school to college, in public, private and alternative settings.

This year’s awards are:

Innovation in Teaching – Sharon Rogers, Hillcrest Elementary School   

Sharon Rogers, a music specialist at Hillcrest Elementary School has been teaching music to kindergarten through 5th grade students for 7 1/2 years. Prior to here, she taught 8 years in Eugene.

Sharon’s colleagues say that students love attending her music classes and look forward to singing, drumming, dancing, while learning how to play different instruments. According to Hillcrest Principal, Jon Davison, “Sharon teaches students music throughout the day with a focus of hands-on participatory music for all students.”

Of all the time and years that Sharon has invested in music, her true passion is bringing her energy and talent into the classroom. 

Contributor to Education – Ron & Carol Shipp, D9 schools 

For over 20 years, Ron and Carol Shipp have been volunteering in classrooms as if it was their second job. You never knew where they would be daily. Whether it was chaperoning on field trips, tutoring students in various subjects, listening to them read, helping with assignments, teaching an art project they developed, helping with classroom parties, doing school-wide screenings, correcting papers, and even many times they would console a student who was having a bad day. Ron and Carol always made sure that students had all the necessary school supplies, including a warm coat, adequate clothing and food. 

  Retired Coos Bay teacher, Jeff Maddess, said that he met Ron and Carol at the Charleston Elementary School back in the late 90’s. He thought they were employees of the district because it seemed that their schedule was fixed. He didn’t realize that they were volunteers.

Unsung Hero – Gary Will, Southwestern Oregon Community College

Gary took over as the only full-time criminal justice faculty in the Fall of 2016. At that time, the criminal justice department graduated only five or six students a year. Gary was able to determine the reasons for the low graduation rate in one of the most popular programs on campus. 

According to Ali Mageehon, Vice President of Instruction at SWOCC, “Gary has been the voice for encouraging students who have prior experience in the criminal justice field to submit that experience for prior learning assessment and earn credit so they can complete their degree.” 

Gary is so passionate about his students and the criminal justice program that he is an advocate for “Study Abroad.” He is organizing a trip to London this year so students can learn about the history of the criminal justice system.

All three award winners were announced and recognized at the January 22nd Wednesday Business Connection Luncheon. From these three honorees, the Chamber will select its Bay Area Educator of the Year, to be announced at the Chamber’s annual awards banquet on Saturday, January 25th

The Bay Area Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit, professional business organization made up of the Coos Bay, North Bend, and Charleston communities. The Chamber works for a healthy economic climate of good jobs, more customers and efficient government. The Chamber’s strength lies in the number and diversity of its membership. With over 540 members strong representing every aspect of this area’s economy, we use their vast collective experiences and energy to make a positive difference in our community.

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