Editors Note: We thank Tony Fuller for nominating Michele Portmann as an OASC Alumni Spotlight. If you would like to nominate someone, please email Katie at Katie@oasc.org.
Next to a picture of Former Cottage Grove High School Student Council Adviser Michele Portmann, a plaque reads “It’s not the Years in your Life… but the Life in your Years.” As November begins its close and Thanksgiving day approaches, former OASC State President Tony Fuller remembers the life in the years of his Leadership Adviser. “There isn’t a day that I don’t think about all the professional and social skills I gained from OASC…Michele Portmann created that for me and many others.”
Michele Portmann was an educator and Leadership Adviser at Cottage Grove High School for over 20 years. She was a supporter of OASC throughout her leadership career participating as a Senior Counselor at OASC Summer Leadership Camp and helping over 500 students from Cottage Grove participate in the program. Michele focused on the lives of many throughout her service as a counselor, and took time to focus on the individuals in her own classroom.
“My goal of becoming OASC State President was accomplished because of Michele Portmann,” says Fuller. “I told her my freshman year I wanted to run and for the next four years she continually helped me stay on track and prepare for the opportunity. I didn’t even know what OASC was until Michele sent me to a middle school summer camp in 1995. I was hooked and later served as Middle School SEC Representative, Midwest Region SEC Representative, State President, as well as 2 years as a first session Junior Counselor and 3 years as a Senior Counselor.
“Michele helped me become a better public speaker. She would put me on the spot in front of my leadership class, taught me how to facilitate student council meetings, and be the master of ceremonies and numerous school assemblies. Those skills were later put to the test as I became a television news anchor after completing my journalism degree at the University of Oregon. Michele was the first educator who made me realize that college could be a reality.”
In September 2011, Michele Portmann was tragically killed in a bike vs vehicle accident on the Row River bike trail in Cottage Grove. Even after her death, she inspired the community to have the trail redesigned and made safer because of what had happened to her.
“Every year on September 21st I remember her by re-reading notes and leadership quotes she gave me,” says Fuller. I miss her but I know that her being honored as the alumni spotlight would make her smile.”