WLHS selects new art teacher

After sifting through over 40 applications and days of decisions, Marianna Gordon, visual arts teacher, has been chosen to fill the position that opened due to Lynn Pass’s retirement.  She was described by Wind Lothamer, technology teacher and incoming Arts Department chair, as “a really good fit.”

“I feel really comfortable teaching all levels of high school visual arts classes,” Gordon said.  “I have been substituting in the Portland Metro Area in the last year and got to see an innumerable amount of art classes, and that was really informative.  It also and it gave me a really good sense of how we can borrow ideas and integrate ideas of other teachers into the West Linn arts department.”

Gordon works with a variety of media, including two-dimensional, three-dimensional, fiber, ceramic and graphic arts, which was one main appeal in Gordon’s selection.

“I think our art department is somewhat unique in that everybody in the department teaches a wide variety of classes, so Gordon is a good fit for that ‘cause she’s got a variety of things in her background,” Lothamer said.  “Her approach to education was really in-line with our district approach and our department approach.”

Gordon in a native Oregonian who attended high school in Eugene, where she didn’t have a formal education in art but was always an art enthusiast.  She received her undergraduate at Lewis & Clark College and her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art.  She taught art at Abernethy Elementary School for four years before returning to Lewis & Clark for a masters in secondary education.  While working towards her masters, Gordon did student teaching at Lincoln High School.  She also had a long-term sub job at WLHS teaching fiber arts when art teacher Diane Gauthier was out on medical leave.

Although her first formal art education was in college, Gordon first expressed her art and career interests in far before high school.

“I always liked art projects when I was in school. Those were my favorite projects.  Any time we got to do a project, from the turkey hand to making our own maps in [International Baccalaureate] Geography, I always loved that opportunity,” Gordon said.

“I always thought I’d be a teacher.  I didn’t know in what capacity I was going to be a teacher.  I think I always knew that I’d come back to this and I’m really, really happy that I did,” she said.

Lothamer, Gauthier and Ann Breyne were all involved in the hiring process.  In total, there were 44 applicants to fill Pass’s space, two of whom moved on to interviews at the district office.

“Marianna, she’s impressive,” Lothamer said.  “She’s energetic and she’s smart and she’s gonna be a real benefit to the school. I’m excited about it.”

Gordon herself feels that she has “big shoes to fill.”

“I am most looking forward to working with really amazing students at West Linn, and especially students who value art so much,” Gordon said.  “My ideal student is anyone who walks through the door and is excited about learning new things.  Anyone who comes in with an open mind into my classroom is my ideal student.”

Students are excited about the transition, even if they regret Pass’s retirement.  Gauthier will be taking over AP studio Art and Advanced Art, which had been taught by Pass.

“I think [Pass is] really inspirational ‘cause she’s had a lot of experience before, and she’s just such a bright person to be around,” Melanie Martinsen, sophomore, said.  “I think her inspiration and her positive influence towards students will be missed.  But I think that Ms. G will be a great person to fill in her footsteps.”

Pass, who is retiring to explore new areas, is stepping down after 21 years at WLHS.

“She’s pretty hard to replace,” Lothamer said.  “But I think Marianna does a good job of presenting the same sort of attitude and skill set and approach that Lynn brought to the team.”

In addition to leaving a room and school that she has worked in for decades, Pass is stepping down from the Fine Arts department chair, which will be filled by Lothamer.  This job requires the facilitation of communication between the department and administration.  Additionally, the chair meets with others department heads and administration in a group known as the Curriculum Coordinating Council once a month to further facilitate communication.  He will also be responsible for the budget.

“Lynn Pass has been the department head for a very long time,” Lothamer said.  “I’m the first new department head since she took over.  I think it’ll be great. I like my department and the people I work with.”

This replacement comes along with a re-arrangement of the arts department, which will be put in place during the 2013-2014 school year.  The teachers in the arts department are changing their classes.  Gordon will be teaching Art I, Sculpture and Clay I, Clay and Animation and Film II.  Breyne will teach Film I, journalism and photo classes.  Gauthier is taking over AP- and upper-level classes, leaving Gordon with classes concerning 2D media.  Lothamer is sticking with technology-based classes, such as web design.

Still, Gordon hopes to retain a bit of Pass’s legacy.

“I think I’m just really honored and excited for this opportunity,” she said, “and I hope that I can do a little bit of what Mrs. Pass has done in terms of expanding the arts department and being the best teacher I can be here.”