Bringing real-life skills to class
Kristina Passadore didn’t expect to be where she is now, teaching technology classes at Banks High School.
“I actually never expected to be a teacher,” Passadore said. “My sister’s a teacher and I always wanted to do something different.”
That quickly changed when after five years in the graphic design business, a three-week stint substituting at Valley Catholic School in Beaverton altered her professional life forever.
“It really came natural to me, and I just loved it,” Passadore said. “I had ADHD and dyslexia growing up, and my teachers taught me how to learn and overcome that. When I used my art and design experience to help people learn, it was just so inspiring to me, so I decided to go back and get my teaching degree.”
Now, 11 years after her first stint at North Bend High School and in her fifth year at Banks, the high school instructor is using her own experience overcoming learning deficiencies, along with her professional acumen, to help students succeed.
“I learned firsthand that we all learn in such different ways,” Passadore said. “It made me appreciate that, and the fact that once someone figures out how they learn, they can do anything.”
And she’s more than willing to do her part to get her students where they’re dying to go.
“Her biggest asset as an educator is her passion and willingness to go the extra mile for our students,” Banks vice principal Ben Buchanan said. “Kristina is heavily invested in her trade and extremely passionate in what she does.”
Since arriving at Banks, Passadore’s zest for teaching and her real-world professional experience has led to an enhanced curriculum at the school, including electives such as digital video and graphic design classes. She also was one of the co-creators of the school’s Fabrication and Design Club, which livestreams Banks High School sports and graduation every year.
“All of these classes build skills in our students they can use in the real world,” Buchanan said.
Banks High shop teacher Tim Eggleston, with whom Passadore co-created the Fabrication and Design Club, is one of Passadore’s biggest fans.
“I cannot say enough good things about Kristina,” Eggleston said. “Probably her biggest asset has been her ability to push students to extend their learning beyond the classroom. Kristina came to us with an industry background in graphic design, and she has used that industry experience and connections to create real, relevant projects for her students.”
Passadore said she likes to sit down with all of her students at the end of every semester and gather their feedback regarding their learning experience.
What could’ve gone better?
What might make the class more interesting?
What may have helped you learn more effectively?
All questions whose answers hold the key to a better learning environment.
“My best and worst trait is that I’m a perfectionist in everything that I do,” Passadore said with a chuckle. “I’m continually trying to improve, and if I can recraft the class and make it better by continuing to stay connected with how the kids are learning, I want to do that.”
Energy is a big thing for Passadore, who said students feed off of whatever energy a teacher brings to the classroom. To her, it’s imperative that even on her worst day, she puts her best foot forward.
“It’s not about you, it’s about the students and being conscious of how your behavior effects them,” she said. “I think you have to consciously make the choice to be positive and create a good environment for them.”
Passadore is looking for that moment when everything “clicks” for a student, and they feel confident and empowered in what they have learned to do.
“It’s really fulfilling for the teacher when the kids are proud of themselves,” Passadore said. “It sometimes takes a long time to reach a student, but you just don’t want them to be left behind.”