Cameron Scott and Colby Knifong are both deeply committed and talented educators. Scott has directed Fishtrap’s Youth program, including Story Lab --since 2018. Knifong has taught elementary grades in Enterprise for more than 15 years. But in the fall, both will start new careers as teachers in the Wallowa school system.
Scott will guide middle school and high school students through the intricacies of English, including Composition, Literature, and Advanced Placement. Knifong will take the reins and responsibility of the 7th-12th grade Special Education program. As a bonus, she’ll also teach Spanish part–time.
Although Scott brings a Masters of Fine Arts, with specialty in poetry, to fully qualify as a high school English teacher, he’ll have to earn a third degree, a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), which he plans to do through Eastern Oregon University. The school district has arranged a temporary teaching credential for him, based upon his knowledge and experience, until he can complete the MAT.
Scott’s work with Fishtrap’s Story Lab brought him to Wallowa classrooms on many occasions. As he got to know teachers, families, and the community, he knew that Wallowa was a place he could settle down. “Wallowa is a very strong, vibrant community,” he said. “Wallowa is a great place to call home.”
The school district’s support of teamwork among teachers, and attention to all learning styles—from hands-on welding to more conventional academics--also attracted Scott to the school.
But of course, Cam Scott’s first love is writing, and more specifically, teaching writing. “You don’t inspire someone to sail by handing them a hammer and a bunch of nails and pieces of wood and teaching them to build a ship. You have to awaken a love of the sea and exploration and then they have purpose in building it. I feel that way about writing. Students will be much more interested in writing stories when the subject is something they know and love.”
Like Scott, Enterprise Elementary School teacher Colby Knifong will be moving to Wallowa to teach Special Education because she considers it a very vibrant educational setting. In 2008, Knifong taught 4th grade and alternative education classes in Wallowa. But it was the opportunity to assist with the girl’s basketball team that hooked her on returning as a permanent staffer. “It was a joy to watch those girls improve and become a team. They grew from having no self-confidence to believing in themselves. David Howe did a great job coaching and teaching them.”
Why would a teacher who devoted most of her 24-year career to upper elementary grades suddenly shift into high school special education?
“I’ve always had a heart for kids who find school difficult,” Knifong said. “ It’s an opportunity to help them find their gifts and the things they excel at.” In special education, Knifong noted, she will be helping her students navigate their work in regular classes. She’ll be working with both the students and their teachers to ensure that the kids involved in special education have exceptional learning opportunities. She will also teach Spanish—her minor in college. And as a bonus, both her sons will transfer from the Enterprise schools to Wallowa.
“I’m excited for the direction the school is moving,” Knifong said. “They have a lot of new ideas. They recognize that kids have different learning styles and needs. It seems like all these doors are opening and I’m just meant to be down in Wallowa.”
At the school board meeting that unanimously approved both new hires, Wallowa Principal David Howe praised both teachers. “Cam Scott is a dedicated and creative teacher who has demonstrated his ability to inspire students across a range of grades,” he said. “Colby Knifong has great capacity to bring out the best in all the students she works with. We are very lucky to have them.”