Alumnus of the Month – Betty Komp

Betty Komp always wanted to be a teacher. But early in life she chose to take a family pathway instead, having her first child at the age of 18. Seventeen years later, when her last child was in third grade, she went to college and refocused on that childhood dream of becoming an educator.

Since that time, Betty has helped Oregon children as a school board member, teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Betty currently serves as the State Representative for Oregon’s 22nd District where she continues to be heavily involved in shaping education policy.

Q&A

What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of?

When I was the assistant principal at Woodburn High in the mid-1990, Woodburn was in the middle of gang warfare. The impacts in our school were so great that students did not want to attend and teachers were afraid that their students were carrying weapons—and they were. The administrative team decided to tackle it head-on with a zero tolerance for any type of gang activity. That year I had 34 students expelled for gang activity. Beyond keeping our school safe and a positive teaching and learning environment; what I’m proud of is that even though the students missed parts of their learning, all of them graduated with a diploma with the exception of one.

The GSE strives to make an impact on our community through the work of our students, faculty, and alumni, what does the term “impact on the community” mean to you?

Impact on the community is the reason I decided to run for State Representative. I witnessed the challenges for all students to succeed and felt that my knowledge and understanding could benefit the entire state, not just my local community of Woodburn. It means walking to the edge of the cliff and looking out and seeing all the world around you and it is a very big world in education.

How do you try to incorporate this concept into your daily work?

I see the bigger, broader vision in every policy that we are debating. The recent legislation addressing education service districts was about seeking out efficiencies, but a bigger concept motivated the conversation about service to students and student learning outcomes. Every step each day reflects a focus on community and families.

What has proven to be the most useful thing you learned while at the GSE.

Always keep up with the most current research and best practices. Learning never ends; it is a very living breathing part of each day.

Remember that change happens. We can be part of the change in schools or sit and watch the whirlwind of mandates take all our focus. Leadership is the key to not just think of best practice but to implement it.

What advice would you give students currently enrolled or recently graduated?

The world is full of options and opportunity. Many of us have tripped and stumbled during our lives, but the key is to have faith in ourselves and others. The old saying that when one door closes, another opens is true only if you have the courage to ask others for advice and work hard to push another door open.

Did you have a favorite professor while at the GSE?

My favorite classes and lessons came from Dr. Bob Everhart. He has such an inspiration quality in the subject areas he chose and sincerity about teaching and learning that continues to challenge me in my thinking—and finishing up my doctoral program.

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