PAA Welcomes New Teachers

October 25, 2016 | Liesl Vistaunet

Portland Adventist Academy welcomed new teachers this fall.

Naomi Woods leads PAA’s music department. After earning her bachelor’s degree in music education with a religion minor from Union College in Lincoln, Neb., she completed her Master of Music Education from Boston University. She has taught at both elementary and high school levels. “My No. 1 job as a teacher is to spark a love of learning,” she says. “[Music is] a core class of infinite value, and I want students to love learning about God, about music and about how to reach people for God through music.”

Deanne Sparks teaches advanced placement (AP) English, English IV and drama. She brings her students a wealth of knowledge and experience. Besides having taught at several different universities and high schools, she continues her professional growth. She is earning her Ph.D. in English from the University of North Dakota. She has master's degrees in English and American history and has a Bachelor of Science in social studies from Pacific Union College in Angwin, Calif. She strives to lay a strong academic foundation for her students. “I believe in creating a classroom environment that provides multiple opportunities to discover and explore new ways of critically analyzing and engaging with the world,” says Sparks.

Young PAA alumnus Erik Peterson is humbled to join PAA’s music department. He replaces his mentor and former PAA teacher Tim Ellis as guitar, theory, and performance and production teacher. Peterson earned his music degree from Warner Pacific University in Portland while continuing to seek mentorship from Ellis before Ellis passed away last winter. Peterson has spent countless unpaid hours in Ellis’ studio growing his capabilities as a producer. “I’m excited to help students use their skills in Christ-centered ways,” says Peterson, “whether that's in worship, with our friends at school or in completely new ways that the students are excited about.”

David Knapp brings his lifelong career experiences to PAA’s auto mechanic students. From fire engines and police cars to dump trucks and more, Knapp has worked on more than 250 kinds of vehicles for the city of Gresham. “My goal is to help students be aware of their cars,” he says. “I want them to know basic preventive maintenance and teach them to diagnose a problem as well. It’s an important skill that can save a person thousands of dollars.”

After tutoring privately for 25 years, Jeanne Howard-Snodgrass still loves teaching math. She carries this energy with her as PAA’s algebra teacher. “It is especially fulfilling to learn each student’s learning style and alter my teaching style to help each individual be successful,” she says. “Success builds self-confidence in life and helps them perform better in every area.”

Sonia Shim joins PAA’s English department. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA then taught at Loma Linda (Calif.) Academy junior high. She ran an SAT and PSAT tutoring business for several years before she and her family moved to the Portland area. Shim has a passion for literature. “So much can be learned from studying the written work of those who have come before us and have shaped our world,” she says. “My hope for my students is that they learn the value of their place on this earth and that they will yearn to contribute to it. Teaching is a noble responsibility and privilege.”