Recognizing Excellence in Teaching
The Education Department has presented four teachers with its 2022 Education for the Common Good Award to recognize their collective effort toward achieving equity and excellence in the Portland Public Schools district.
Each year, the department presents a local educator with the Education for the Common Good Award to honor their dedication to teaching, learning, and the broader community of educational professionals.
Awardees are selected from a pool of educators nominated by alumni and school partners and are chosen because their ongoing work represents three core values of the Education Department:
- Be aware of the big picture
- Embrace theory and practice
- Live in and model a spirit of inquiry
This year, the Department selected four recipients in Portland Public Schools: Superintendent Xavier Botana, Executive Director of Human Resources Barbara Stoddard, Director of BIPOC Career Pathways and Leadership Development Julia Hazel, and Assistant Principal Alberto Morales.
On the evening of September 15, Professor of Education Doris Santoro presented the awards to the educators, remarking that “they have demonstrated the courage, vision, and tenacity that it takes to make our schools better places for everyone, especially educators of color.”
Botana demonstrated his awareness of the big picture upon taking the helm of Portland Public Schools in 2016. Two of the key tenets of the comprehensive plan that would guide the work of the district for the coming years were equity and people.
Botana has been a steadfast supporter of equity for all students in the district, and wholeheartedly endorsed efforts to study and improve conditions for educators of color in the district. He has marshaled the resources when it mattered and demonstrated his commitment to this work in setting priorities for professional development and hiring in the district.
Stoddard has been working to increase the number of educators of color in the Portland Public Schools since her arrival in 2014. Her efforts have yielded results: The percentage of educators of color working in Portland Public Schools has doubled in her time with the district.
To achieve this, she initiated comprehensive data collection, established intentional recruitment strategies to attract educators of color; developed grow-your-own teacher programs such as TeachPortland; designed and implemented an equity hiring toolkit to intervene on bias in the application and interview process; and spearheaded research into the experiences of educators of color in the district.
The research that Stoddard spearheaded in collaboration with Bowdoin College was conducted by then-teachers Julia Hazel and Alberto Morales. They have both since moved into leadership roles in the district. Their research was supported by Botana and Stoddard, who compensated them for their time interviewing educators of color in Portland Public Schools, as well as compensated research participants (educators of color in the district). And they devoted ongoing and comprehensive professional development time to sharing the research with all members of the district.
Hazel and Morales are co-authors of the "Educators of Color Insights Report," an article in the latest issue of the national education magazine Kappan, in addition to other academic presentations and publications. They were responsible for interviewing educators of color in the district, writing the report, and presenting it to the PPS Board of Education and to their colleagues across the district. They played invaluable roles in the strategic and ethical dissemination of the report’s findings, prioritizing the well-being of educators of color as the district becomes a more equitable place to work.
Hazel has been an educator for eighteen years. She launched the district-offered course Race in the United States: Perspectives for Portland Educators. She was a leader with Portland’s district-wide Equity Leader cohort. She collaborated in a teacher-led working group to revise the PPS teacher evaluation
process by embedding equity language and expectations for ongoing equity-oriented reflection and growth.
She also initiated the educator of color affinity group that has met monthly since 2018. Hazel is now director of BIPOC Career Pathways and Leadership Development for Portland Public Schools.
Morales also taught the Race in the United States course and was part of the Equity Leaders cohort. He has been an educator for twenty-three years. While teaching English at Casco Bay High School in Portland, Morales advocated for restorative approaches to classroom management. This year, he moved into a new role as assistant principal at Portland High School.
The Education for the Common Good Award honors an educator who has created positive change and dedicated themselves to the community. The Education Department is thrilled to honor Botana, Hazel, Morales, and Stoddard for their leadership and dedication to equity work toward changing the conditions for educators of color in the Portland Public Schools.