A local Lake County teacher has won a prestigious teaching award in the State of Oregon.
Courtney Wertz, who teaches middle school and high school English/Social Sciences at Paisley High School, has won the 2019-2020 Civic Educator of the Year through the Classroom Law Project.
The award was presented by Oregon Chief Justice Martha Walters at the 2019 Oregon Civics Conference for Teachers in Salem on Friday, Dec. 6. The award is given to one teacher each year that has demonstrated a distinguished career in teaching Civic Education to students. Wertz grew up in the Willamette Valley area. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Oregon and her masters from Pacific University. She began teaching in the Portland area 16 years ago, then her husband’s job transferred him to Lake County so she took her current position with the Paisley School District five years ago.
“I was shocked that I was even nominated,” said Wertz.
She does not know who nominated her, but she was told that multiple people nominated her for the award. The actual award is an apple statue.
One of the areas that Wertz has worked on with students is driving home the importance of making their voices heard, even if they live in a small, rural, community. Wertz works to make sure that students in Paisley are exposed to a variety of experiences, even though they are in a remote location. She has worked to take her students to Salem to present Project Citizen portfolios, and to Portland for the Courthouse Experience Tour.
A local project she coordinated was having kids go door-to-door talking to people about emergency preparedness, and putting that information together for county authorities.
Wertz wants her students to leave her class not only knowledgeable about how the system works, but to be passionate and develop their own voice.
She talked about international transfer students that provide a unique and enriching experience for local students. They provide a different perspective than what locally-raised kids experience. Transfer students are often shocked at how free people are to express opinions, vote, and surf the internet in this country. In turn, local students are often shocked that in other countries things are more repressive if people do not follow the official line.
Paisley School District Supt. Paul Hauder is extremely proud of Wertz and her passion to the profession, and that it shows that opportunities are available in rural school districts like Paisley. Hauder also said that Wertz has been selected by her colleagues to represent Lake County on the Eastern Oregon Regional Educator Network, a brand new entity to support the continuing education of teachers in eastern Oregon.
Wertz lives in Lakeview and commutes to Paisley everyday.