Meet the Helensview School Staff
Principal & Vice Principal
Dawn Joella Jackson
Hola, bienvenido a Helensview. Soy la directora de Helensview y amo mi trabajo. Hello, welcome to Helensview. I am the principal at Helensview and I love my job. I grew up in New Mexico and Colorado and have worked with students for 21 years. In this time I have held many positions: Educational Assistant, Residential Counselor, Teacher, Director and Teacher Coach.
I work at Helensview, because I believe strongly in Alternative Education. I know that each student and family knows what they need and I want to work together to get you that. Por favor, venga a hablar conmigo si tiene alguna pregunta o si necesita algo
My name is Dan Cohnstaedt and I am the Vice-Principal at Helensview School. Much of my experience is working with court appointed students in outdoor settings: 60-day primitive skills backpacking trips in Southern Utah or 30 day canoe trips in the Florida Everglades. I have a wife and two boys and we spend as much of our time outside hiking and rafting as we can.
I really enjoy being part of all the opportunities that are available for Helensview Students. From dual enrollment courses, bicycling program, summer internships and credit recovery I feel strongly about meeting students where they are at and helping anyone who is willing to try.
Child Development Center Teacher
Hi, my name is Terrie Babeckos. I am a Teacher in the Helensview Child Development Center. I have worked at Helensview for the past 17 years. My husband and I recently celebrated our 40th anniversary. We have 2 grown daughters and 4 amazing granddaughters ranging in age from 8 to almost 2 years. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, trips to the beach, boating and riding on the back of my husbands motorcycle.
I work here at Helensview because of my love for children and education. We provide a safe environment where children can learn through play and exploration. We develop strong bonds with the students and their children. We love our work!
Bilingual Educational Assistant
My name is Alejandro Ceballos and I am the Bilingual Educational Assistant at Helensview. My educational experience includes teaching art with preschoolers at the Environmental School and after school programs with middle and high school students at Sabin and Scott School. I have also done murals with preschoolers at Applegate Head Start and Scott. Being an artist I have learned the importance of bringing the arts to the students' growth. I have also worked as a Transition Specialist, and being a Bilingual Educational Assistant makes me experience the transition students go through as they learn the language to understand, communicate, and become part of their new culture.
Hello, My name is Shantae Clayton. I have been working with teenagers for about sixteen plus years. I love working with teenagers because they have wonderful insight about life. I beginning working in this field when I did a college summer internship at a juvenile boot camp stationed in Pennsylvania. The bond I created with the young ladies grew so strong that we cried together before I left the boot camp.
I love Helensview School because of the way staff meet the students where they are at in life then help the students grow. At the Helensview graduation I shed a tear because I helped in giving someone skills to meet his or her goal of graduating.
My name is Helen Gandee, I am a parent to two teenagers and a foster parent. Before working at Helensview I was a stay-at-home parent for 8 years.
I love working with babies. Working at Helensview has allowed me to work with many wonderful babies and their parents. I feel a great deal of pride in the work I do at Helensview.
Rosa Garcia Perez
Bi-lingual Campus Monitor
Hola! My name is Rosa Garcia Perez; I am the bi-lingual campus monitor. I have been working in education for over 16 years. My main role is to support in areas of the classroom as well as manage the school smoothie bar.
I grew up in Mexico and came to America when I was 16. I currently live in Portland with my husband and my three children. In my free time I enjoy reading, exercising, cooking and spending time with family. People who know me well would say I am reliable, organized, and hard working.
I enjoy working at Helensview because I am a strong believer in education and diversity. I didn't complete high school in the required 4 years--I needed a bit more time because of personal family hardships. I am proud to be a part of a team that values students not just in the classroom but also the factors that contribute to them outside of the classroom.
Bi-lingual Campus Monitor
My name is Ami Gonzalez; I am the Bilingual Campus Monitor at Helensview School. I am also a proud graduate of Helensview School class of 1995 (yes, Helensview has been around that long). Prior to coming to Helensview (as a staff member) I had done a wide variety of jobs from Photography to Call Center Supervisor and many things in between, which allows me to share a little knowledge about a lot of things. I grew up in the Portland area and have overcome a number of challenges that help me to not only relate to our students but to demonstrate that change is possible. I have had the pleasure of working with some incredible mentors over the years and thoroughly enjoy working with staff and students at Helensview School.
Social Studies / Literacy / Special Education Teacher
I grew up in a family of teachers—both of my parents and many of my relatives including aunts, uncles, and cousins are teachers. So, I wanted to do something different and spent many years in different professions—film production, construction, and touring as a performing musician. I went back to school to earn a teaching degree and finished a Special Education program at Portland State University in 2014. To get started on a teaching degree, I took online classes while playing music on the road, and worked substitute teaching assistant jobs for Multnomah Education Service District programs. That's really what brought Helensview School into my life!
I was hired to run the music production program at Helenview in 2011, which fit my years of experience as a performer, and I continued taking classes and working toward a teaching degree. The students and staff at Helensview inspired me to focus on working with high school students. In our classroom community, I learn as much from them as they learn from me. I still teach a little bit of music at Helensview, but have moved primarily into Social Studies and Literacy instruction as well as Special Education. I believe that learning happens about all subjects at all times, so my class combines social skills instruction with reading and writing skills while also teaching history, politics, and economics.
Child Development Center Teacher
Hi my name is Shameka Harris and I am a teacher in the Helensview Child Development Center. After spending over 10 years teaching in childcare centers, I'm thrilled to expand my role at Helensview High School. I teach because, it allows me to work on hearts and minds, to help guide the young people and their families in becoming empowered, engaged, creative, liberated human beings who want to join in this effort to help change the world. I know that play is a child's most important work, and I strive to create and maintain an environment where children can grow, learn, and thrive while exploring the world around them.
When children do not surround me, I enjoy going shopping, hangouts with family and friends, and exploring new restaurants. I'm excited about the new school year and what’s in store for the children, families, and the community. Thank you for having me apart of an amazing team!
Helensview Front Office
My name is Sheri and I work in the front office. For more than 25 years, I’ve worked as office support. Over the past 11 years, I’ve worked in educational settings. An ideal work setting for me would be one where I could serve as a resource person in an inclusive, caring and uplifting community. At Helensview School, I’ve found just such a place.
My four sons are grown and thriving, as are my husbands three children. This year, we became great grandparents. We now live in Clackamas County and take active roles in Amateur Radio Communications. We volunteer throughout the year at first-aid events including those with Special Olympics. One of our joys is photography and so we spend as much time as possible in rural settings and traveling, often at the coast.
Math & Science Teacher
My name is Blake Kast, and I will be teaching Math and Science (and maybe some other things!) at Helensview School this year. Before coming to Helensview, I worked for Brown University's Education Department doing research that helped school districts do a better job helping their students get to college. I also helped graduate students in Brown University's Urban Education Policy program find and complete research and policy internships throughout the academic year. Before that, I taught middle school in New York City at MS 324, the most magical school in all the land! I just moved to Oregon from Rhode Island, and grew up in Portland, Maine, so this is my first time living on the West Coast! I love to hike, read, run with my dog, and eat delicious food with my partner, Nadav.
I came to Helensview because I want to work in a school environment that honors and celebrates students for the brilliant and unique individuals they are. I am really excited to work with such amazing educators and to learn from our students. I hope to provide support, encouragement, and kindness to the whole Helensview community and can't wait for this year to get going!
My Name is Sally Kissell and I am an Administrative Assistant working at the front desk at Helensview. I have worked at Helensview since April of 2014. Previously, I worked as a GED Tester, School-to- Work Liaison at Alpha High School and a School Health Worker. I have worked in the schools since 1974!
I am married to Dennis, have three adult daughters, four beautiful grandchildren and two big poorly trained dogs! I love working at Helensview because the students and staff keep me young at heart!
Helensview is a great community and family. Welcome to Helensview!
My name is Arthur Moore. I am the first person you see when you walk in our doors. I work at Helensview School because I believe every child has a gift. It’s just up to us, as educators, to help that child find their gift.
I have devoted my life to working with children in a variety of venues, coaching, working in public schools and through private organizations.
I am Kim Nomensen, the counselor. I am so excited to be part of such an amazing community. I believe in the power of alternative education, and am lucky to be part of a school that supports young people as they grow and transform their lives.
I have had wonderful experiences working with youth throughout my career. I’ve worked in the areas of suicide prevention, homelessness, domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse prevention. Years ago, I took a break from working with youth to attend culinary school and get to know my family overseas. While I’m not in the kitchen for my profession anymore, I am still passionate about cooking—and mostly eating!
I look forward to getting to know you and working together.
Gerna B. Palmer
My name is Gerna B. Palmer. I am a retired math teacher with 24 years of experience in one local school in my country, Philippines. I have three kids that are all boys ages 18, 20 and 21. I enjoy outdoors, walking, gardening and camping. We came here in the United States in 2013. I believe every student should be valued and treated with respect. I believe that education should empower a student and can help make a positive contribution to our community. Working at Donald E Long school for 3 years helped enhance my skills as a better educator. I passionately enjoy teaching and I look forward to getting to know all my students well this school year, while working with a great community and family at Helensview School.
My name is Yency Ramirez. I’m from El Salvador. I moved to Portland 16 years ago and his is my second year working at Helensview. I like my job as a custodian because I enjoy helping support the students and being part of a great staff.
Gang Prevention Specialist
My Name Is Dontae Riley. I am the Gang prevention specialist at Helensview High School. I have worked in alternative education for 12 years (10 at Helensview). I am also the founder of the S.T.A.R.S. Mentoring Program. A non-profit organization that provides after school programming for our at risk student population. Graduating from an alternative program, I know the different issues students face not attending a traditional high school. No resources, no support, ultimately they are unsuccessful. I believe that all students learn differently, and using a strength-based philosophy allows me to grow relationships, build confidence, and reassure students of their own success.
The reason why I work for Helensview is to help those who need it most. To help them become positive contributing members of their community. My hope is that Students see their self worth, and are equip to work towards their own personal success. To know that they deserve the life that they dream about, and through hard work, and perseverance their dreams can become their reality.
Welcome to Helensview, an amazing school where teachers are constantly working to meet student’s needs in and out of the school. I come to Helensview from the town of Shreveport, Louisiana. I was raised by my loving grandparents and surrounded by my 7 siblings. They instilled in me a strong sense of family values, discipline and work ethic. I have an amazing wife, Jennifer, who is also a teacher, a 2 year-old daughter, Jayda, and a 5-month-old baby, Jace. You will most likely hear about them throughout the year since I believe you do not leave family at the door of the school.
I believe working closely with families and building strong relationships. At Helensview I run small groups, work independently with students, teach a woodshop class and assist teachers in their classroom. I look forward to sharing and building on our skills throughout the school year.
My name is Joseph Williams and I am the Mathematics Instructor at Helensview School. Prior to working at Helensview, I spent 7 years working with middle and high school students in Oakland, CA. I am excited to return to Oregon as I went to college in Ashland and spent time as a cook in Portland roughly 10 years ago. My passions include math (of course), cooking, art, cycling and exploring the outdoors through hiking and backpacking.
As our world becomes more technology based, the emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses increases. Many students see math as a major hurdle while working towards their diplomas. My goal for students at Helensview is that we can spend time working within small groups to help develop skills within mathematics through student discourse, exploration and by making mistakes. Communication is at the core of my math instruction with the belief that the more students talk about the strategies they use to make sense of concepts the more the world of mathematics makes sense to them and others.
The best way to reach me is through email. I look forward to meeting with you as we kick off the 2016-17 school year at Helensview!
Student Attendance Liaison
I am Craig Woods a local from Portland Oregon. My family is from Birmingham, Alabama. I enjoy the Northwest’s seasonal weather. Walking for me is great exercise. It is my excuse to visit neighborhoods around the city and eat at a variety of places. I spend a lot of time coaching youth sports with all ages of children. While I am not a professional actor, someone recognized me from the TV show Leverage, I appeared in a couple episodes.
Here at Helensview I am a Student Attendance Liaison. I have worn many hats over the years in my job. I get the great joy from the students seeing them mature and graduate.
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