Portland State Magazine Fall 2022

Thursday, and Friday, grade-level groups of no more than five kids met with their teacher for personalized practice during a scheduled time—the only time-specific commitment they had. “The first few minutes and the last few minutes of each Zoom was completely focused on their emotional and social well-being,” Flowers said. “It was not going to be a skill-and-drill for 45 minutes. It was ‘How are you? How are your friends? Let’s check in,’ and then they rolled into practicing the skills that we knew they needed foundationally. …Teachers would use that small group meeting to do some informal assessment to see how a lesson was going and whether they needed to slow down or try a different approach.” Teachers also hosted daily drop-in hours for kids to ask any questions, get additional help, or simply pop in and chat if they were home alone. Students had access to the daily lessons and activities 24 hours a day and could complete their independent work at their own pace with the expectation that the week’s work was due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.The school helped by mapping out a recommended daily schedule for each grade that included lunchtime and “brain breaks.” By all accounts, it was successful. Parents praised the flexible schedule and teachers completed their hardest but most beneficial year.The data shows their students are academically in a much stronger place than their peers. “Because teachers were navigating both grade levels, they were shifting in the moment,” she said. “They knew where the kiddos needed to be, but they also knew where the kiddos were, and they were making those moves really intentionally.” Flowers credits her teachers for jumping all-in on her crazy idea. “The work that we magically made happen during COVID, it might have started in my kitchen, but it grew and became what it was because of the team that I work with,” she said. “We’ve been seeing the benefits of it every day since.” Winning the Milken Educator Award came as a complete surprise to her—there is no formal nomination or application process—but she says it’s pushed her to think even more boldly. “I feel so grateful for the award and my experiences thus far, yet I’m not done and I’m hungry,” she said. “What’s next? That’s what inspires me, what drives me.The award helped me to pause for a moment and realize that that just happened. But now it’s game on and that makes me really excited—nervous, but really excited.” —CRISTINA ROJAS Peggy (Houston) Shivers ’60, philanthropist and soprano, was celebrated in June at the Colorado College Summer Music Festival with An Evening of Song in Honor of Peggy Shivers. With her late husband, artist and Tuskegee airman pilot Lt. Col. Clarence Shivers, she created the Shivers Fund and Concert Series (shiversfund.com), as well as the Shivers African American Historical and Cultural Collection at Colorado’s Pikes Peak Library District. The Shivers Fund Concert Series encourages young people to participate in and enjoy the classical arts by offering performance opportunities, workshops, and scholarships. Shivers was also honored with the inaugural Excellence in Art and Culture Trustee Award by the El Pomar Foundation in 2021. Kelley Nassief ’89 has been selected to lead the Portland State Opera program after a 16-month national search. Nassief succeeds Christine Meadows ’83, who retired in 2021. After earning her bachelor ’s degree in music performance from PSU, studying under Ruth Dobson and Bruce Browne, Nassief earned a master ’s degree in vocal pedagogy at Westminster Choir College. She has performed in dozens of operatic and vocal roles at companies worldwide, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and L’Orchestre de Paris. Her teaching experience includes more than 10 years at Adelphi, Stony Brook University and Hofstra University. She has been an adjunct instructor at PSU’s School of Music & Theater since 2021. Douglas Soesbe ’71 MA ’76 wrote a screenplay, Tender Outcast, that was selected as one of 10 finalists in a screenplay competition run by Francis Ford Coppola and his company, Zoetrope. The competition included 2,000 entries. Soesbe retired in 2019 after 42 years with Universal Pictures. As a story analyst, he reviewed prospective material and was a liaison between screenwriters and the studio. He was involved in movies like the Forty-YearOld Virgin, Knocked Up, Mama Mia, and Meet the Parents. He also maintained a writing career with five produced films, including Boulevard, one of Robin Williams’ final on-screen performances. HIGHLIGHTS COURTESY PEGGY SHIVERS ANNEMARIE BAIN COURTESY DOUGLAS SOESBE From left : Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister; Aubrey Flowers; and Greg Gallagher, senior program director for the Milken Educator Awards. “What ’s next? That ’s what inspires me, what drives me.” PHOTOS FROM MILKEN FAMILY FOUNDATION FALL 2022 // 35 · ·~ MILKEN FAMILY 2021-2022 ·J FOUNDATION ~~~ AubreY. Flowers __ J$25,000.00/ TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND and 00/100 DOLLARS •~LKENEDUCAT~ ~~~