Grant Union hires McKern to teach Spanish classes

Liliana McKern and Matt Goodwin


Liliana McKern has taken on duties as Grant Union High School's Spanish I and Spanish II teacher to nearly 70 high school students.

Originally from the high Andes of Peru, McKern is naturally fluent in the language. In fact, before arriving in the United States eight years ago, she did not speak English.

Her two college degrees from Peru include a bachelor's degree in economics and "Economist." She was employed in the family business at Mt. Vernon after her arrival in Grant County.

Several requests to teach Spanish for adults and children, led her to consider following the tradition of becoming a professional teacher. Her mother and many aunts had been teachers.

McKern instructed the Spanish Club at Humbolt Elementary and taught workshops through Blue Mountain Community College. She also filled in as Prairie City School's Spanish teacher in 1999-2000 then pursued her Master's in Teaching Education from Eastern Oregon University. She returned as PCHS's full-time Spanish teacher in 2002-03 and this year is at Grant Union, where the response to her instruction has been well received.

Some colleges have a prerequisite of a foreign language, and McKern noted that in the near future, all universities may require, not only high school credits, but proficiency in speaking a foreign language.

GUHS students will be exposed to the Spanish culture and specific languages as they follow unit themes focusing on Mexico, Puerto Rico, Southern United States, South America and Spain. The classroom agenda will incorporate field trips and guest speakers - those who speak Spanish and also those who have visited Spanish-speaking countries.

Liliana lives at Canyon City with her 12-year-old son, Gabriel, a sixth-grader at Mt. Vernon Middle School, and husband, Duane, who recently retired from 30 years of teaching - 25 of which was in Grant County schools. They return to Peru for periodic visits.


Matt Goodwin joins the staff at Prairie City High School as English instructor for seventh- through 12th-grade students.

Goodwin grew up in New England and lived in Sanford, Maine, Rhode Island and Tennessee, where he graduated from high school.

He received a Bachelor of Art in English from Tuffs University in Medford, Mass. For several years he worked various jobs in Portland, Maine, then was employed as a proofreader in a law firm in New York City. He attained his master's degree in English from the State University of New York and, as a graduate student, taught freshman writing.

At Harvard University in Massachusetts, Goodwin instructed the freshman expository writing program for four years, then was employed in educational publishing in the Boston area for two years.

The Goodwins relocated to Oregon (Eugene area) in 1997, while Matt's wife, Janine, pursued a master's degree in special education.

Matt worked for three years as a reporter for the Dead Mountain Echo, a weekly newspaper in Oakridge. He also attended the University of Oregon and received his license for teaching secondary English, then provided substitute teaching in a number of districts in the Eugene/ Springfield area.

The Goodwins arrived in Grant County in mid-August, settling at Prairie City.

"We like the sense of community, the sense of participation," said Matt of the rural setting. He enjoys reading and the couple plans to do some camping in the future.

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