March 13, 2003 - Beaverton News: Gambia and Ghana RPCV Ralph Schubothe named outstanding kindergarten-12th grade math or science teacher in Oregon

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Gambia: Peace Corps The Gambia : The Peace Corps in the Gambia: March 13, 2003 - Beaverton News: Gambia and Ghana RPCV Ralph Schubothe named outstanding kindergarten-12th grade math or science teacher in Oregon

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Gambia and Ghana RPCV Ralph Schubothe named outstanding kindergarten-12th grade math or science teacher in Oregon

Read and comment on this story from the Beaverton News on Gambia and Ghana RPCV Ralph Schubothe who has been named the outstanding kindergarten-12th grade math or science teacher in Oregon at:

Teacher adds fun to math*

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Teacher adds fun to math


FOREST GROVE -- Ralph Schubothe teaches math, but his room at Forest Grove High School looks more like a home economics class.

A plaid pillow sewn with beads and equations hangs from the back wall. A felt scroll shows how to calculate integrals. Jeans and a baseball T-shirt scribbled with fractions hang above his desk.

The projects serve as final exams for his classes, where he helps students defeat mathphobia through hands-on learning. In his eyes, all students should try their hand at sewing a calculus pillow.

"If you make math interesting, they enjoy it," Schubothe said.

Making math interesting to high school students has earned the 30-year teaching veteran more than half of his dozen awards.

His most recent is from the Oregon Academy of Science, which named him outstanding kindergarten-12th grade math or science teacher. Each year, the group of science researchers and educators chooses one teacher who fulfills the group's aim of promoting science education and research.

Schubothe chairs the math department in Forest Grove, but his reach spans the state. He has served as an Oregon Math Leader for 20 years, he said, and as a member on the state panel for education testing for 10 years.

"He's always focused on the big picture and doing the best for kids," said Ginger Redlinger, education specialist in mathematics for the Oregon Department of Education.

His devotion extends to his home as well. Jim Specht, a friend and Hillsboro math teacher, said Schubothe lets the Oregon Council of Teachers of Mathematics store stacks of paper in his basement.

"He's a person who you can count on," Specht said.

Schubothe majored in math at Whitman College in Walla Walla. He began his teaching career in the African country of Gambia, during a two-year Peace Corps stint.

He then bounced among rural Oregon school districts and far-off locales. After Gambia, he taught in Woodburn, then flew to Ghana for another Peace Corps mission. He held a five-year post in Heppner, followed by a trip to Germany teaching for the Department of Defense. Schubothe then landed in Bandon for a year.

"I do enjoy rural Oregon," the soft-spoken teacher said. "It's quiet. I enjoyed raising my kids in the sticks."

He and his wife packed up their two daughters yet again and moved to Banks. After eight years, he moved to Forest Grove High, where he has taught since 1995. In the past few years, he has been training teachers at Pacific University and Portland Community College.

Neophyte instructors cling to Schubothe for support, said Camille Wainwright, professor of science education at Pacific. When a teaching intern arrived at Forest Grove High last year, he met with her almost every day after school.

"He let her do a lot of talking, and sometimes, some crying," Wainwright said.

At the high school, students like that he's down to earth. He doesn't yell, and he rides his bike to work every day.

"He teaches without being a teacher," said senior Matt Greeley, 17.

Plus, he's funny.

"What will you wear for pi day?" Schubothe asked his calculus class last week.

To him, March 14 is really a day to celebrate the irrational number 3.14, which happens to be the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Students take a break from integrals and talk about wearing pie tins.

In his way, said senior Sophia Sansone, 17, Schubothe imparts more than ways to calculate the arc length of a circle.

"He teaches you that learning is an enjoyable thing," Sansone said. "It's not something you're forced to do by the government or your parents or to get ahead in life."

Shirley Dang: 503-294-5962;

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