GROUP LAUDS CAREER DIRECTOR

May 14, 2001 11:00 pm
TOUCHING THE LIVES OF STUDENTS: Pam Dodds, right, the coordinator of La Grande High School's Career Center, talks with Kelly Weber, one of her student assistants. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
TOUCHING THE LIVES OF STUDENTS: Pam Dodds, right, the coordinator of La Grande High School's Career Center, talks with Kelly Weber, one of her student assistants. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

The coordinator of La Grande High Schools Career Center is in company shared by nobody else in Eastern Oregon.

Pam Dodds is the winner of the state Les Adkins Award for Career Guidance Excellence. Dodds is the first person from Eastern Oregon to win the award, which was established in 1987.

Dodds has run LHSs Career Center since it opened five years ago. During that time she has helped hundreds of students.

Dodds has also put on a career fair every two years. The 2001 fair had 300 presenters and drew 2,000 students from throughout the region.

The award Dodds received is one given each year by the Oregon Career Information System Board. The Career Information System is a self-supporting public consortium at the University of Oregon. Sherry Weissenfluh of the Union-Baker Education Service District and a CIS board member was part of the Judkins Award selection committee.

The quality that stood out ahead of everything else was her continual dedication to students. She touches every student in that high school, said Weissenfluh, the ESDs school-to-work and vocational coordinator.

Dodds said she could not accomplish what she has without the help of her staff of about a dozen student-assistants. The dedication they have shown is exceptional.

Kids are awesome, Dodds said.

She noted that many of her student assistants worked for hours after school and during the weekend to help organize the March 14 career fair.

It is not an accident that Dodds student assistants have succeeded.

She knows how to put students in positions in which they will be successful, LHS Assistant Principal Jim Boen said.

Dodds student assistants include Shanda Reddington. The junior said that Dodds is a fun person to work for and provides a lot of support.

She is always there for you, Reddington said.

Dodds is also LHSs senior class adviser, a position she has held for two years. This school year the class has been involved in numerous activities to benefit the community. These include the Union County 24-Hour Relay, at which money is raised for programs that promote a drug-free community.

Dodds noted that at this years relay, LHSs senior class ran more miles than any other team, including the defending champion, the National Guard.

What a message to send to the community, Dodds said.

Dodds was nominated for the Judkins award by Teri Berry, job services representative and school-to-work liaison for the Oregon Employment Department.

Her kind of commitment is uncommon and should be recognized, Berry said in her nominating letter.

Dodds said the support she has received from Berry and many other people at the employment office and the LHS staff has been a key to her success.

I would not be where I am today if it were not for them, Dodds said.

Dodds said her job has become a labor of love over the past five years.

I still scratch my head in the morning when I think I get paid to do this, she said.