Kim Pruski-Dehnert has been teaching and working with children for the past 23 years in diverse educational, cultural and socioeconomic settings which have included Montessori Philosophy, Waldorf Education, and teaching in Japan, Mexico, India and Nepal. Kim works with each student holistically, recognizing and building upon each child’s emotional, social and academic strengths. She facilitates self-directed inquiry and learning opportunities so that the children feel responsible, empowered and take pride in their accomplishments. She strives to foster an atmosphere of collaboration, continuity and relevance in her classroom where learning experiences are linked to life. She creates a safe environment for exploration, modeling virtues, respect and reverence toward each other and our world, instilling liberation and confidence in hopes to bring to the surface each child’s deepest dreams and aspirations. Kim graduated with her BS degree in Elementary Education in 1991 and is currently pursuing her MS in Education at Pacific University. She has three daughters of her own and is dedicated to exploring life and learning at Altair!
Terry Clifford is a veteran elementary teacher, having taught grades 1-5 over a 30 year career span. She has served on many district committees, including developing curriculum for the teaching of writing and serving as NSF science facilitator and presenter. She co-authored a third grade social studies textbook on local history. Working for Portland Public Schools T.A.G. department, Ms. Clifford served in many capacities including school coordinator, T.A.G. center teacher, assessment specialist and curriculum writer. She received her undergraduate degree and reading endorsement from Pacific University and her M.A.T. from Lewis and Clark College. A native Oregonian, Ms. Clifford enjoys exploring and learning about the history of the Pacific Northwest. On road trips, she has investigated the ruts and swales of the Oregon Trail. On sternwheeler cruises on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, she has followed the Lewis and Clark expedition. At Ft. Vancouver, she has helped with archeological digs. She has one daughter and son-in-law who are residents of Australia. Ms. Clifford recently became a grandmother with the birth of her grandson in Brisbane.
Betsy Ptak has a passion for helping kids realize that math is fun, fascinating, and awe-inspiring. Originally from Alaska, Betsy graduated from Williams College and spent the first part of her career working for software companies in a variety of roles – most of which involved translating between developers and customers. While developing and teaching classes on complex software, she discovered that she loved soaking in the “aha” moment when a person finally grasps a difficult concept. Deciding that she could make more of a difference in the world teaching children, she went back to school for a teaching certificate at Santa Clara University and started teaching 5th grade math and science at a public charter school in California.
She continues to pursue “aha” moments with students through teaching at Altair and volunteering at public schools. She is the proud mom to two boys and wife to a engineer who serves as the family IT department. In her spare time she volunteers at schools, reads, travels, and tries to train the family’s new dog. When the boys were in 2nd and 4th grade, the family homeschooled the boys for 8 months and traveled around the US by RV visiting national parks and soaking in as much of the country as they could
Born and raised in New Jersey, I started my educational career as a literacy tutor during my years at Rutgers University. I moved to Las Vegas Nevada, where I taught Kindergarten, first, third and fourth grades, as well as training new teachers in the district. It was during this time that I also received my MEd in curriculum and instruction to become a literacy specialist.
Following the birth of my first son in 2007, I moved to Portland where I worked with Beaverton School District as an instructional coach and then a fourth grade teacher. Most recently, I taught at the German International School helping them start up an English Kindergarten program. I currently also use my literacy specialist training to provide private tutoring to students with literacy difficulties and/or dyslexia.
In my nonprofessional life, I am a mom of two very active sons; I cook, read, dance, hike, and hope to take up kayaking. I am also enrolled in PCC’s nursing program.
A big part of my philosophy as an educator is to individualize instruction as much as possible through student led inquiry. Much of my work in the classroom involves building solid relationships with students and their families to help create an educational program that meets the academic and social needs of each student and responds and changes as the student grows. I consider myself more of a coach and facilitator in the classroom, so Altair’s small size and focus on inquiry is a perfect fit for me.
Ilana Rembelinsky, Middle School Humanities
Ilana Rembelinsky has recently retired after 27 years in public school classrooms. She has taught Language Arts, Social Studies, Humanities, Reading, and English as a Second Language. She was a founding teacher and developed the Humanities curriculum for the Summa Academy magnet program for highly gifted middle school students in the Beaverton School District. In addition to her subject area endorsements, she holds certificates in Gifted Education, Twice Exceptional Learners, and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Ilana is passionately interested in the unique mind and experience of each gifted child she has had the pleasure to work with. Those who struggle to understand their unique gifts or to enjoy a successful and positive educational experience touch her heart. She has established the Gifted/2e Community Resource Center to facilitate the formation of support networks among families and to offer her experience and perspective to help meet the needs of this special population.
Outside of her work in the field of education, Ilana is an active member of Portland’s Mardi Gras Krewe, plays guitar and percussion and sings with friends on a weekly basis, enjoys cooking and eating fine food, and appreciates spending quality time with family and friends.
Kristine Fosback, Director
Kristine Fosback is a noted educator in the state of Oregon. A 1977 graduate of Portland State University, Ms. Fosback holds a Masters Degree in Education with special research studies in math education. During her thirty years as a teacher in Portland, Oregon, her contributions included developing innovative math and general education programs, heightening awareness of the educational needs of highly gifted children, and expanding service learning opportunities for elementary school students.
In 1988, along with Dr. Donnise Brown, Ms. Fosback developed the curriculum for “Recess Math,” a program that received extensive national recognition in the 1990s and has been replicated throughout the country. One of fifteen programs selected for a $250,000 grant from RJR Nabisco’s “Next Century Schools Foundation” from among more than 1,000 competitive submissions, the program utilized innovative concepts to productively restructure how time is used during the school day.
Fosback has written and received grants on behalf of schools and individual students, awarded from both local school districts and national organizations such as the National Gifted Children’s Fund. In 1988, Fosback received special recognition from the Reynolds District School Board for her contributions and “exceptional leadership.” She was later honored as an Employee of the Year by the Reynolds Education Foundation.
Ms. Fosback has been a presenter at district in-services, educational conferences, and university seminars. On behalf of Education Soaring, Fosback was invited to participate in the development of NOISE, the Network of STEM Educators (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Technology). She served as Chairman of the Communications Committee and was a member of the Leadership Committee.
Following her 2008 retirement from public education, Fosback continued to provide services through Education Soaring, the center she founded in 2002 to support the needs of capable, motivated students, their parents and their teachers.
Ms. Fosback is a resident of Portland, Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, writing and spending time with her son, a physics major at Portland State University.