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Monmouth Elementary School

Since 1955, Oregon’s Teacher of the Year program has been proud part of Oregon’s history. The program recognizes and honors teachers who show excellence in their field. What many people don’t know, however, is that Oregon’s very first Teacher of the Year came from the backyard of our state capitol. In 1955, Monmouth Elementary School’s Margaret Perry (Teufel) won the honor.

When Margaret worked at Monmouth Elementary School, the school building was located on what is now the Western Oregon University (WOU) campus. At the time, this was Monmouth’s only elementary school. The college used the school as model school and lab for their student teachers from 1916 to 1984. During those years, the elementary school was known by several different names.

In 1916 the elementary school building was called the Training School, and later the Monmouth Training School. In 1964 a second elementary school was built by the city of Monmouth. To avoid confusion, the Monmouth Training School on campus was renamed the Campus Elementary school (CES).

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The former elementary school on the WOU campusEventually, Western needed to make space for a growing population of college students and in 1984, the college merged their elementary school with the district’s other elementary schools, closing the campus school in 1986. Today, the original Monmouth Elementary building (pictured here) now houses WOU’s Instructional Technology Center.

Sponsored by the Oregon Lottery since 2016, Oregon’s Teacher of the Year program was an important honor first bestowed on an Oregon teacher in 1955. In addition to being a key sponsor of the program, The Oregon Lottery also helps support education across the state. In 2018 Polk County schools, where Monmouth Elementary is located, received $2.5 million in Lottery funds. Funds from the Lottery help to provide essential school projects, infrastructure and supplies. And it’s not just grades K-12 that benefit from lottery funding. All of the state’s public colleges, including WOU, benefit both from funding and lottery-sponsored scholarships that help open the door to higher education—maybe even for a future Teacher of the Year. That’s a big win for the students and teachers of Oregon!

Margaret Perry — Oregon’s First Teacher of the Year

After winning Oregon’s first Teacher of the Year award, Margaret went on to win the national Teacher of the Year title too.  A couple of years later, she married in Hillsboro, and thereafter was known as Margaret Teufel. In Hillsboro, she became a beloved special education teacher, so much so that, after she passed, the City of Hillsboro designated Margaret Teufel Day as a part of their famous annual airshow. Margaret Teufel Day, also known as Special Needs Day, has hosted more than 18,000 special needs individuals since 1988. The goal is to give individuals with special needs the opportunity to experience the thrill of an air show and also meet some of the best pilots in the industry.

Margaret Perry won the National Teacher of the Year award early in her career. Her promising potential truly played out in ways that made lasting impressions on her students and her community.