K103 Honor Roll Recognizes Outstanding Teacher Tom Erickson

K103 and Concordia University  are pleased to honor and support outstanding educators making a difference in the lives of students in their schools each month. Congratulations to this month’s honored educator, Tom Erickson,  6th, 7th & 8th Grade Science/STEAM Teacher at  Clear Creek Middle School in Gresham, Oregon!

Mr. Erickson was nominated by Vicki Moen, who had this to say:

Tom is an amazing teacher who is always looking for ways to engage his students, not only in the work inside the classroom, but in the community as well. Last year, Tom was awarded a $25,000 grant from Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow contest. Tom noticed that during recent floods and hurricanes, people fled to their attics or second stories to escape the rising water. That gave Tom an idea. Tom's class of sixth through eighth graders designed a rooftop trapdoor and submitted it to the Samsung contest. The idea took the prize for Oregon and provided $25,000 in prizes. As part of the process, Tom partnered with a local company and had a prototype made. His class toured the facility and watched as the escape hatch was manufactured. The completed hatch has a lid with LED's that flash SOS and a shortwave FM broadcaster capable of alerting first responders.

Congrats, Tom, from all of us at K103! Get to know Mr. Martinez through his Q&A below.

How many years have you been teaching?

24 years (3 years at Clear Creek)

Why did you choose this career and why did you decide to teach middle school?

My mom was a teacher for 20 years. I actually didn't want to be a teacher until circumstances led me to become an Outdoor School staff member in the early 90's. This experience made me realize that teaching is what I was meant to do. I teach middle school because it was important to me that students have a positive male role model at this critical age.

For those unfamiliar, tell us about STEAM.

STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. A main tenet of STEAM is to prepare students for careers in technical and construction fields. For years this area was referred to as STEM (no art) but the powers that be have recognized that art is an important area to include as technologies and construction techniques evolve. My curriculum is really fun. One day we may be doing some computer coding or 3d design work and the next day we might be using robots of building something with our hands. It's a very creative outlet for me.

What do you love most about your job?

There really is nothing quite like playing a role in someone else's successes. The feeling I get when I hear a former student has found success (whatever that may look like for them) is great. Likewise, seeing a look of understanding flash on a kid's face in class is what you live for as an educator. The simple idea that a student can leave more capable at the end of the day compared to when they arrived in the morning motivates me to do what I do.

The K103 Honor Roll is powered by Concordia University , with support from CTL K103, Concordia University and CTL thank all the amazing educators who make our schools great! Each month during the school year, K103 will honor a local educator with a spot on the K103 Honor Roll. Each honored educator receives:

  • $500 Gift Card from Concordia University for school supplies
  • Concordia University Continuing Education Scholarship valued at $2800
  • $2500 Technology Grant from CTL for new Chromebooks and Chromeboxes
  • Engraved Commemorative Plaque
  • Catered lunch for the teacher's lounge from  Jersey Mike's

CLICK HERE  to nominate your favorite educator!

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