By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Ridgeview High School teacher Melissa Stolasz is in the running for Oregon Teacher of the Year.
This week she was awarded High Desert Regional Teacher of the Year. It’s an honor she describes as a much-needed surprise.
“When I found out that I was nominated for Oregon Teacher of the Year I almost deleted the email,” Stolasz said. “I thought it was spam.”
Each Regional Teacher of the Year receives a $500 check from the Oregon Lottery.
The recipient of Oregon Teacher of the Year will receive a $5,000 cash prize and $5,000 will be given to their school. The winner will also serve as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers.
Stolasz says she did not expect her week to begin with a prestigious nomination.
“I found out yesterday, and it was a little bit of a blindside in our staff meeting,” Stolasz said. “Our amazing principal Mr. Lee Loving told me that I was the regional finalist for Teacher of the Year, and I was blown away.”
Stolasz teaches math and science at Ridgeview High.Â But with so many changes this year, she saysÂ this award was just what she needed amidst the pandemic.
“Right now it’s all of that chore type element without the joy and the good stuff,” Stolasz said. “So it was a really nice, just kind of like a fluffy little boost of my energy and I needed that.”
While Stolasz may have been surprised, her student Reese Evenhus said she deserves it.
“She’s truly one of a kind, and if I could have her every year for a class I would be the lucky one,” Evenhus said.
Stolasz still doesn’t know who nominated her, but she said she’d love to find out and give them a big virtual hug.
Oregon’s Teacher of the Year will be announced this fall.