A La Pine Middle School social studies teacher is one of just 54 teachers nationwide to receive this year’s prestigious James Madison Foundation Fellowship.
The Bend-La Pine School District said Jessica Colburn earned the award by “completing a series of short essays demonstrating her intent to pursue a graduate program centered around the Constitution, devotion to civic responsibility and capacity to study and perform as a classroom teacher. Her final essay was a 900 word piece explaining why the Constitution is paramount to American life.”
The James Madison Foundation Fellowship is considered one of the highest honors a social studies teacher can receive.
“This award will have a positive effect on my teaching career, as it will allow me to gain the knowledge necessary to explain and connect the Constitution to the lives of my eighth grade students today,” Colburn said in a statement. “The education I will be able to give them will be infinitely stronger.”
Colburn was also named Teacher of the Year by the Oregon Council for Social Studies in 2018, the district said. She has taught in Bend-La Pine schools all eight years of her career.
Her career didn’t start in teaching, the district said. She went to school to become a doctor. But she found that she enjoyed volunteering at High Desert Middle School more than she did working in a hospital lab.
“Middle school students are an interesting bunch to teach as they are constantly trying to find their places in the world, what they like, and who they are,” Colburn said in a statement. “I am happiest when I see them make a positive change that will help them move forward. When they start to apply The Constitution to events in the news, or make a claim complete with evidence, I see them making a connection about how the past does influence their lives even today.”
Colburn is headed to Ashland University in Ohio for her graduate studies.