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SEF is now accepting nominations for
2023 Alumni Awards

Do you know an amazing graduate of Springfield Public Schools?
Nominate them for a 2023 SEF Alumni Award!

The ninth annual Alumni Awards were presented at the prestigious Honor Roll Society Reception on March 10th, 2022. Scroll down to see the winners!



These awards give us an opportunity to recognize graduates of Springfield Public Schools who have gone on to make a difference in their professions and communities. 


  • Outstanding Alumni Award: Given in recognition of alumni for significant contributions in professional practice, personal achievement or community service.
  • Rising Alumni Award: Given in recognition of alumni who graduated in the last 10 years. These graduates have demonstrated significant potential, through professional accomplishments, academic honors, personal achievement and/or community involvement.
  • Distinguished Educator: Recognizes educators who have graduated from Springfield Public Schools and have continued on to make a lasting impact in the lives of students.
  • Legacy Family: Recognizes a Springfield family that has made a multi-generational impact on education in our community.
  • SEF Advocate of the Year: Given in recognition of an individual, family, or organization that has championed the mission of the Springfield Education Foundation, and made a lasting impact on Springfield students.
  • SEF Volunteer of the Year: Given in recognition of an individual who has generously given their time, efforts, and energy to support the success of the Foundation.


Graduates from Academy of Arts and Academics, Gateways High School, Springfield High School, Thurston High School and Willamette Leadership Academy are eligible for these awards: Outstanding Alumni, Rising Alumni, and Distinguished Educator. 

Legacy Family, SEF Advocate of the Year, and SEF Volunteer of the Year awards are carefully selected by SEF Board Members, Staff, and Volunteers. If you have a suggestion for any of these categories, please email info@springfieldeducationfoundation.org.

Nomination Process

Nominations for Outstanding Alumni, Rising Alumni, and Distinguished Educator awards are open year-round. Instructions are on the forms. Nominations can be submitted electronically or mailed to PO Box 663 Springfield, OR 97477.

For more information, contact Christina San Filippo, Executive Director, at 541-726-3243 or Christina@SpringfieldEducationFoundation.org.

Alumni Award Winners 2022

Outstanding Alumni


Marshall Cho was hired in 2015 as the Head Boys Basketball Coach for Lake Oswego High School. Since taking over the program in 2015, Cho’s team has won the Three Rivers League title for three consecutive seasons (2018-20) while being named league Coach of the Year each of those years. In addition to his responsibilities at Lake Oswego, Cho is a part of the board at the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association (6A Representative) and the Oregon Basketball Coaches Association (communications/Mentorship). Cho has also served as the camp lead instructions director for the Yao Foundation Camp in China for four out of the past five summers, traveling to China with an assistant coach from the Lake Oswego program to deliver basketball instruction to youth from all over China.


Cho served as the director of basketball operations at the University of Portland from 2012 to 2014. He joined the Pilots after spending the previous three seasons on the coaching staff at renowned DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. Cho began his career as an educator through the Teach For America program and taught in the South Bronx and Harlem for six years. He served as the boy’s basketball coach from 2004-06 at Future Leaders Institute, leading them to a New York City Charter School Championship.
   From 2006-09, while living in Mozambique, Cho spent three years as a volunteer coach and instructor with the Mozambican National Basketball Federation. He worked to assist the under-20 and under-16 national team and for Desportivo do Maputo, one of the top senior men’s club teams in Mozambique. He also trained under-16 basketball coaches using the NBA/ Nike Africa Coaches Guide for six consecutive weekends leading up to the under-16 national championship. In August of 2008 Cho was the varsity boy’s basketball coach at the American International School of Mozambique, where he started and developed that program. During his time in Africa, Cho served as a coach for the NBA-sponsored Basketball Without Borders Africa. He also led a variety of volunteer efforts, including rehabilitating basketball courts by partnering with Hoops 4 Hope and the U.S. Embassy and conducting basketball clinics with local basketball clubs.
   Cho graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 2000. He also received a Master’s Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Columbia University in 2003. Cho was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Springfield, OR. Cho and his wife, Connie, have a son, Nathaniel, and a daughter, Emma. 

Outstanding Alumni

Dr. Steven Owen

   Steve Owen is a percussionist, timpanist and drum set artist with The President’s Own United States Marine Band in Washington, D.C. and Professor of Percussion at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. A 1990 graduate of Springfield High School, he went on to attend the University of Oregon School of Music and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Percussion Performance. After completing graduate studies at The Eastman School of Music, Steve accepted a position with the Marine Band and settled in the nation’s capital.
   His performing career has included tours to Asia, Europe and 49 US states, numerous recording projects, and countless high profile concerts and ceremonies in the D.C. area. He appears regularly at the White House with the Marine Chamber Orchestra and Jazz Combo, and has performed for four presidential administrations. In addition to a busy performing schedule, he remains an active teacher and mentor to young musicians. 

   Apart from his duties at Shepherd University, Dr. Owen has given clinics at two Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, The Maryland Day of Percussion, The Arkansas Day of Percussion, The Armed Forces School of Music, and masterclasses at universities and high schools throughout the nation. He is co-author and performer on The Complete Percussionist instructional DVD, which has become a mainstay in public school percussion education across the country. Steve currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife Joanna and daughters, Veronika and Renee.

Rising Alumni

Kelly Mason

Kelly was born and raised in Springfield and attended Springfield Schools. She discovered her passion for leadership in 8th grade when she became the student body president and it has been with the support of her community that she has continuously been able to give back and represent Springfield in a variety of roles. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and has dedicated her career to promoting access to education. She currently works as an academic advisor with the PathwayOregon program.
   Before that, she worked in the financial aid office at UO both as a student and as a counselor for a total of 6 years. This spring she will complete her Master of Public Administration degree with the hope of someday working for local government either at the city or county level. 

   One of her many interests is being an advocate for the Latinx community and working with Spanish speaking students and families. Being a Spanish speaker gives her the ability to connect with a variety of diverse populations and help provide access to education both in her work as an academic advisor and a School Board member. She is passionate about Springfield and wants to give back to ensure that all students are heard, represented, and respected through a lens of equity and inclusion.
   In addition to her new role as a member of the Springfield School Board, she previously served as Chair of the Community Development Advisory Committee and was recently nominated to serve as the Vice President of the Wildish Community Theater. During her free time, she loves to go hiking with her dog Roxy, spend time with friends and family, and work on projects in her new home!

Distinguished Educator

Noah Van Horn

Noah was born and raised in Springfield, Oregon. A product of Brattain Elementary, Hamlin Middle, and Springfield High School, Noah graduated with honors in 2003 before enrolling at the University of Oregon, where he received his Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. After volunteering at Page Elementary- where his mother was teaching- supporting students with behavioral trouble, Noah began supporting in a Special Education classroom at Maple Elementary and ultimately decided to return to the University of Oregon to receive a master’s degree in School Psychology.

   Noah began working as a School Psychologist in the Springfield School district in 2012, supporting academic, behavioral, and mental health interventions. In 2013 Noah took on a newly added role as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Coach. Since then, Noah has worked with the district coaching team to build and maintain Multi-Tiered Systems of Behavior Support within our Elementary, Middle, and High schools. In addition to his roles in Springfield, Noah began using his experience to train students at Portland State University in the Department of Special Education in 2020.

SEF Advocates of the Year

Erik and Hilary Vos

Erik J. Vos joined the SEF Board of Directors in 2017. He is CFO of Timber Products Company and has spent 31 years in the wood products industry. Erik comes from a family of educators and grew up learning to give back to the community and believes that education is key in solving local, state, national, and global challenges. In addition to his work with SEF, Erik is a former Board Chair of FOOD for Lane County, past volunteer for SMART (Start Making A Reader Today), and supporter of several non-profits including Stand For Children, Hosea and Improve Your Tomorrow. 

Hilary Vos just recently retired from the University of Oregon having worked as a career counselor for the last 15 years, most of it at the UO Master’s program for Conflict and Dispute Resolution (CRES). Prior to her career in career counseling, Hilary was a journalist for over 20 years working in such roles as a reporter, anchor and senior news producer. Erik is a sports nut and enjoys all sports (particularly tennis) and is an avid Ducks fan, while Hilary is an avid reader, and both love to travel abroad. They have lived in Oregon since 2006 and have a 23 year old son, Harrison, who is a budding guitar luthier.

SEF Volunteer of the Year

Nancy Stark

   Nancy grew up in a family of community-minded individuals, so volunteering was something that came naturally to her. In 2015, Nancy retired from 18 years on the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors where she chaired the Education Committee for many years. At this time, she also retired from Weyerhaeuser after 38 years with the company.
   During her last several years at “The Big W”, she managed the Weyerhaeuser Foundation grant process, and that’s when she learned about the SEF, and happily began to support their mission. A few months after retirement, she was contacted by then SEF Board Chair, Terry Beyer, about helping out on the annual fundraiser, Night of 11,000 Stars. She longed to be involved in the Springfield community once again, so she readily said yes.That began the great experience of fundraising to help our Springfield students. She found that being the Chair of the Procurement Committee was challenging, rewarding, and fun! 

   Nancy encourages anyone who wants to be part of a great organization that helps ALL Springfield students to get involved – no prior experience needed. Nancy and her husband, Jim, have three grown children who attended Thurston High School and then each an Oregon college: Linfield, Portland State, and UO. Education was always a focus in our family.

Legacy Family

The Light Family

   Frank and Dotty Light moved from the middle of the country to Springfield, Oregon, when they were just newlyweds. From the moment they arrived, they loved their town and no other would suit them. They engaged in many organizations, always with the intent of getting things done and improving life in their community.
   The Light family community involvement began when Frank was hired to teach high school band in the early 1950s. He traveled from Springfield HS to McKenzie High School and others to teach band. After 5 years, he decided to follow his passion and Light’s for Music was established in 1956.

   As business owners, Frank and Dotty supported improvements to Downtown Springfield and to Main Street. The store served as a resource to musicians and community members for merchandise, music education, rental of band instruments, practice space, instrument repair and comraderie for 49 years.
   Frank and Dotty were founding members of the Emerald Empire Art Association (now the Emerald Art Association) and spent 3 decades volunteering as board members, teaching and taking classes. In their quest to find a permanent home for EAA and at the same time enhance Main Street, they successfully led a campaign to acquire the building formerly housing the Gerlach’s Drug Store, to be used as the current home for EAA.
   They were members of Lions Club and Lions Auxiliary for as many years, serving frequently as Board Members and officers, and transporting donated corneas to recipients awaiting transplants.
   The “Dotty and Frank Light Endowment Fund” was established from their estate to build a program of art education for youth in the community. Using this endowment, 2 week art camps have been offered in the summers of 2020 and 2021 for students in the Springfield area and the camps will continue in perpetuity.
   Frank and Dotty’s contributions to Springfield reached far beyond the arts and culture. Their devotion to St. Alice Catholic Church and its community was a constant in their lives, leading them to spearhead vast projects such as helping to build the new church and to eliminate church debt.
   As Choir Director and Organist for over 50 years, Frank played an important role in church ritual and ceremony, leading congregants and choristers alike, in hymns of praise. All the while, Dotty supported the choir and the director from her front row seat in the soprano section (just as she did when they first met during choir practice at University of Colorado @ Boulder).
   The Light family continues to be a force in the Springfield community. Jonathan and Suzanne Light, Son and Daughter-in-law of Frank and Dotty, have continued the tradition of serving the community through music education and student engagement.
   Jonathan joined Light’s for Music in 1989, after completing degrees in music and business. The Lights subsequently opened a second store, Light’s Music Center, where music lessons, workshops, group classes and student tours were given. As an educator, Jonathan taught K-12 music in Pleasant Hill for 11 years, and served as Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for 4 years in Springfield. He is now in his 16th year as a Board Member for the Springfield School District.
   Suzanne Light taught elementary music at Douglas Gardens, Walterville, Camp Creek, and Mohawk elementary schools in the Springfield School District. She excelled for 20 years as Director of Oregon Children’s Choir and, in 2009, was awarded Oregon Elementary Music Teacher of the Year.

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