Winning teacher Catherine Hawkins (left) and her nominator Rebekah Schneiter (right) and Scheiter's son

Oregon teacher wins $5K for her school

Catherine Hawkins, a kindergarten teacher at Central Linn Elementary School in Halsey, has been named the second term winner of the Education Celebration Award, presented by the Oregon College Savings Plan. Hawkins received a $1,500 prize for herself, and a $5,000 check for her school. The award was presented at a morning ceremony in front of the entire student body in the school gymnasium earlier today, where more than 300 elementary children expressed unbounded enthusiasm.

“I'm thrilled with the positive recognition this award brings to our school,” stated Hawkins. “I work with such a wonderful group of people who come to school each and every day committed to our children and their learning environment. I am honored to accept the Oregon College Savings Plan award on behalf of all of us at Central Linn Elementary.”

Hawkins, who lives in Albany, has been teaching at Central Linn Elementary School for more than 25 years, the last 14 as a kindergarten teacher. Her nominator, Rebekah Schneiter, is a parent of one of Hawkins’ current students, and was also taught by the veteran educator 25 years ago. According to Schneiter, every activity in Hawkins’ room supports learning and is developmentally appropriate. Fun is never sacrificed, and all the children thrive while being taught to exceed, learning goals through engaging projects.

When working with children, Hawkins likes to promote self-reliance and a sense of independence; she does not want to do for the kids what they could do themselves. “I try to let children be children,” she said. “I feel strongly about how much we are asking of children and want to make sure they can still derive enjoyment from being in a learning environment.”

The Oregon College Savings Plan presents the Education Celebration Award to an educator in the Oregon K-12 educational system who has motivated and inspired children to be better students. The program will recognize one final educator in the 2011-2012 academic year; nominations for the spring term must be received by May 15, 2012.

Nominations may come from any Oregon resident who has the opportunity to observe an effective educator in action. To nominate an educator, tell the Oregon College Savings Plan in 250 words or less why that educator should be recognized with the Oregon College Savings Plan’s Education Celebration Award. All nominations must be submitted online at

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