After years of collegiate study and teaching that has taken her from prestigious Cornell University to the Cascades, Megan Kruer found her calling at a local middle school. And now she is reaping the rewards with a state nomination for a national award for her work at Seven Peaks School in Bend.
Walk inside Kruer’s 7th-8th grade classroom and you’d see things you might expect: Desks and laptops — and even a fluffy class pet bunny. But Kruer’s style as a language and literature teacher is anything but average.
“I am a researcher at heart. I think that that factors in a lot,” Kruer said.
The Oregon Historical Society honored Kruer last week with a nomination for the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award — the result of her work with students for the Oregon History Day contest. It’s a chance for students to submit papers, exhibits, documentaries and more about a historical event.
“I really emphasize in independent research skills for my students and learning how to navigate databases is how to find primary sources. Those are things that I think my expertise and experience just make me really comfortable doing,” Kruer said.
Research has been a theme throughout her education from an undergraduate degree in comparative literature and French to a doctorate in romance studies and French literature at Cornell.
Seven Peaks School’s international baccalaureate status drew her to the middle school classroom after 10 years teaching college.
“So really, you know, taking away some of the expectations around the things that are supposed to be taught in school and just leaning in a little bit more, especially in middle school, with what the students are excited to learn about,” Kruer said.
The age group might be different, but the essentials are the same.
“I think post-COVID resilience is something students really need and projects like National History Day and Oregon History History Day teach that. So they learn that even though they hit a hurdle and they can’t find a source if they keep pushing or seek help, they can probably get there. So that experience, for me, is way more important than all the things they learn about inoculation or the westward expansion,” Kruer said.
Kruer will be put against nominees from other states in June for a chance at the top prize and $10,000.