One class ending and another beginning, a seamless sense of purpose fills Dave Case’s Hood River Valley High School classroom.
Students leave, energized, while others enter, ready to learn from Case, who the Oregon Department of Education this week named the Columbia Gorge 2020 Regional Teacher of the Year.
Junior Cruise Hawk tells a reporter, unprompted, “The main thing you need to know about Mr. Case is he addresses every student by name, every day. He’s awesome.”
Case wins a $500 cash prize and is one of 13 teachers from across the state in the running for Oregon’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, to be announced in September.
“It is fair to say that Dave Case is a master teacher,” said HRVHS Principal Rich Polkinghorn. A 25-year teacher, Case earned his Bachelor’s in English from University of Oregon and his Masters in Teaching from Lewis and Clark.
Sophomore Izzy Simpson said of Case, “He’s one of those teachers you can tell really loves his job.
“The first time I got to work with Mr. Case was when I was a freshman, he was my soccer coach and he was so enthusiastic.
“He just seems to pour his heart into his job and work to help students succeed,” said Simpson, whose mother, Nicole Ligon, teaches at Westside Elementary.
Case, whose classroom walls are covered with photos of historic figures and events that he uses to get students interacting with each other, was modest about the honor.
“This award says our community is really supportive of education, and they’ve been really supportive of me, and anything I’ve accomplished has been because of that support from students, family, faculty and the community,” he said.
“I see it as a commendation for our school and our school district. The middle schools and elementary schools send some pretty awesome kids to us.”
Said Superintendent Dan Goldman, “Over his career at Hood River Valley High School, Mr. Case has been a champion for the underdog, a force for breaking down barriers to advanced content and college-prep courses for students of color, and a veritable kid-magnet.
“In the last decade alone, Mr. Case has grown general enrollment in AP U.S. History by approximately 500 percent; even more notable is the racial diversity in these courses as they provide genuine access to college affordability, and thus increased lifetime earning potential.”
Polkinghorn said, “He views the role of ‘teacher’ through a wide angle lens — as only a journalism teacher can — beyond the walls of his classroom. He is involved in almost everything on campus for the purpose of providing and equipping our students with the skills to be successful both in school and in life. There is not a better candidate for Oregon Teacher of the Year than Mr. Dave Case.”
Regional Teachers of the Year are nominated by students, colleagues, administrators, friends or family members to apply for the award, and selected by a diverse panel of regional representatives. In September 2019, one of the Regional Teachers of the Year will be named the 2020 Oregon Teacher of the Year.
Thanks to the Oregon Department of Education’s partnership with the Oregon Lottery, the 2020 Oregon Teacher of the Year receives a $5,000 cash prize (with a matching $5,000 going to their school) and serves as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers.
Case said, “I’m kind of self-conscious about it because I know so many really good teachers in our district who haven’t received an award like this.”
His parents, Dave Case of Portland and the late Sue Case, both were teachers.
His wife, Chauna Ramsey, teaches English at HRVHS.
Case said, “I know my students are thinking, ‘How can he be the teacher of the year in the region if he’s not even the teacher of the year in his own house?’”
Case added, “So many people I haven’t heard from in 25 years who are popping out of the woodwork saying, ‘Congrats.’”
Asked about his favorite part of teaching, Case said, “The relationships.
“I have these wonderful relationships with everyone in the community,” he said. He even enjoys those times when after a day full of teacher conferences, “we’ll talk more later in Rosauers.”