Ohio Connections Through the Halls of IBW


Hayden Dennis (he/him), Staff Writer

Ohio is a state known by many, but not always in a good light. It is often a state that is made fun of and only seen for its cornfields and empty landscapes. In spite of the memes and jokes, the state is home to many who see it for much more. The three major cities and numerous small cities, the best roller coaster park in the nation, a national park, highly regarded colleges and much more.

As some may know, Andrea Patton was a graduate from The Ohio State University and worked in Columbus at Whetstone High School for 13 years. But Patton was and is not the only teacher at Wells with a connection to the Buckeye State. There are currently five staff members with some form of connection, with three of them growing up there.

One of the teachers with a connection is business and marketing teacher, Ken Muraoka. He has been teaching at Wells for 6 years after growing up in California and going to college in Montana. His connection to Ohio is actually through his wife who got her undergraduate at The Ohio State University. Through his marital connection to Ohio, he has grown very fond of the state and enjoys trips out to visit his wife’s family and friends all across the state, mainly in Cincinnati.

Ken Muraoka

English teacher Kathy Diamond is another teacher with a connection to Ohio. Her connection is going to college at Denison University outside of Columbus. She moved out to Oregon after moving from a job in Boston, and has been a teacher at Wells since 2004. Despite it being years since she attended Denison, she still has kept in touch with some of her friends from college who she gets to see almost every summer. To her, despite her time in Ohio being years ago, she still sees the state as a place of some of her lifelong friendships.

Kathy Diamond

Jay Rishel is yet another staff member here at Wells with an Ohio connection. Unlike Diamond and Muraoka, Rishel grew up in NE Ohio in the Youngstown- Warren metro area in the town of Niles. He attended JFK High School in Warren and played football on the same football team as former 20 year U.S. Representative, Tim Ryan. He then attended The Ohio State University for college and came out to Oregon after getting offered a teaching job in Wilsonville. He is currently the Team Lead of the 9th grade Success Teams, and before that he was an English teacher, totaling 7 years here at Wells.

Jay Rishel

Another teacher from the Youngstown-Warren Area is Jessica Wade. Wade has been working at Wells for five years and works in the College Career Center as Career Coordinator. Wade grew up in Warren and left when she went to college at Ohio University where she received a Bachelors of Science in Communication. She later got a masters degree in at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Wade came to Portland after looking for jobs on the West Coast with her husband, which led to them going to Portland.

Jessica Wade

Engineering teacher Caitlin Toohey grew up in NE Ohio in the city of Canton (about an hour from Youngstown-Warren). Toohey stayed in Ohio for college and attended The Ohio State University. She went to Ohio State three times and has three degrees from there, a Bachelor’s of History, Bachelor’s of Material Science and Engineering and a Masters in Material Science and Engineering. She left Ohio in 2011 and moved to Oregon for its natural beauty, and she also got her teaching degree here in Portland. She has been working here at Wells for a total of 4 years now.

Caitlin Toohey

All of these staff members have personal connection to Ohio in one way or another. Even in spite of the fact that they all live 2000 miles away from Ohio, they are still able to express what they know it for and what it means to them. Whether it be things like food and the cheese coneys in Cincinnati or the cheese puffs from the Mount Carmel Festival in Niles. Or maybe the small things like lightning bugs at night or the thunderstorms (real thunderstorms) over the summer. But one thing that every person said was that Ohio means family and/or friends.