• 7 from PPS receive Lifetime Achievement Awards at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute

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     Collage of MLK events

    PPS events held in celebratioon of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day included (clockwise from left) the 35th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute; the RIDE gathering of students; and a Grow Portland garden cleanup at Vestal. (Photos by Beth Conyers)

    Seven community members with connections to Portland Public Schools were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday as part of the 35th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute event at the Highland Christian Center.

    The daylong event featured speakers and performers and was highlighted by the Lifetime awards. Among this year’s honorees:

    • Mercedes Muñoz, a Franklin High School special education teacher who was recently named the Oregon Teacher of the Year.
    • Tamala Newsome, who worked in PPS for 28 years, including the final 21 as principal at John Ball Elementary School, which became Rosa Parks Elementary. She retired last year.
    • Karen Barker, who spent 33 years as an elementary school teacher in PPS, and has been serving as high school program manager for the Maurice Lucas Foundation.
    • Margaret Peoples, who has worked as a teacher on special assignment in PPS’s College and Career Readiness Department for 19 years, with a focus on the Gear Up program that gets students ready for college.
    • Major Michael Jones, who served as assistant to the principal at PPS’s Jackson High School in the 1970s and played a major role in the district’s efforts to integrate schools. He is a graduate of Grant High School.
    • Donald Whisler Wolfe (posthumous), who had a long, distinguished career as a music teacher and taught choral music at several schools, including Cleveland and Jefferson high schools in PPS.
    • Pedro Anglada-Cordero, who serves as a student attendance coach in PPS's Community Partnerships department. In his capacity as a social worker and community leader, he has helped people obtain food, rental assistance and medical and mental health resources.

    The event also featured PPS student performers, including from Sitton Elementary’s Bravo Music Program, Faubion K-8, the Jefferson Dancers and Beaumont Middle School, and a speech from Nicole Watson, a Grant High teacher who spoke on behalf of the Portland Association of Teachers. PPS was one of the event’s sponsors.

    See photos from the event

    Other PPS-connected events held in conjunction with Dr. Martin Luther King Day on Monday:

    RIDE: The 4th annual version of RIDE, for Racial, Identity, Development, Empowerment, brought 100 middle and high school students to Blessed Temple Community Church to engage in courageous conversations about race and equity.

    The event was hosted by DoPE (Dreaming of Potential Excellence), an organization founded by Vernon K-8 School teacher Paula Dennis to connect students of color to adults in their fields of interest and other community role models. Julie Palmer, an instructional specialist at Franklin High School, hosted the event with Zinnia Un, equity coordinator of the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

    See photos from the event 

    Grow at Vestal: Students, staff and family from Vestal Elementary and ACCESS Academy teamed up with staff from Grow Portland to clean up and boost the school’s garden.

    Grow Portland helps create and support school-based gardens as a way to help the community connect to the natural world and healthy food. In addition to Vestal, Grow works with eight other PPS schools including Chief Joseph, Rigler, Beverly Cleary, Laurelhurst, Atkinson, Grout, Creative Science and Harrison Park.

    See photos from the event