November 4, 2022

Spear Center for Excellence in Teaching Inaugural Conference


International School of Portland’s Spear Center for Excellence in Teaching Hosts Inaugural Inquiry Learning Conference

—The first of its kind in the nation, the center fills a significant gap in high-quality professional development opportunities for teachers working in language and inquiry-based teaching—
October 18, 2022 (PORTLAND, Ore.) – On October 14-15, the International School of Portland’s Deloris A. Spear Center for Excellence in Teaching held its inaugural in-person conference, titled Crafting Inquiry: PDX 2022. More than 100 early childhood and middle-school educators and administrators from around the country attended, with another 40 from around the world taking part through a virtual livestream.

A growing number of schools across the world, both public and private, are embracing inquiry-based and language immersion education. However, finding quality professional development in these areas is difficult. The Spear Center is filling this gap by providing opportunities for educators to come together to learn from each other and other educational leaders, develop their skills, and collaborate with a global network that shares educational goals and values.

“Inquiry-based learning not only instills in students a true love of learning and the ability to pursue knowledge throughout life, but perhaps more importantly, it teaches how to approach challenging issues with empathy and compassion—two things we need in the world more than ever,” said Bodo Heiliger, Head of School at the International School of Portland. “The Spear Center is dedicated to furthering inquiry-based learning, and we were honored to welcome this group of extraordinary educators to our inaugural conference.”

The conference featured four world-renowned educators and presenters in inquiry-based teaching practices: Kath Murdoch, Trevor MacKenzie, Stephanie Harvey and Kimberly Mitchell.

“International School of Portland of Portland has brought a powerful vision to life with the launch of the Spear Center. Teaching is a profession that demands we continually stay informed and growth-oriented in our mindset, so having unique professional development and collaboration opportunities for inquiry-based learning, such as those offered by the center, are vital,” said Murdoch. “I am sure the Spear Center will become a highly valued force for professional learning.”

“Crafting Inquiry was an event like no other,” said MacKenzie. “With a lineup of featured speakers that have been mentors, critical friends and leaders in the field for decades, combined with a world-class audience that came to the event with a depth of experience, a genuine collaborative spirit and an inquisitiveness for going deeper into inquiry learning, Crafting Inquiry outdid itself as a highlight of my speaking year.”

The Crafting Inquiry conference also offered job-alike sessions, where educators met with others who work in a similar context, including those in a language immersion setting, such as Spanish, Mandarin, French, Japanese or German; others who teach the same grade or subject in English, or administrators who work with a number of teachers. Thanks to a partnership with the United States-Japan Foundation, the conference included Miho Nishita, a skilled educator and workshop leader from Tokyo International School, who worked with the Japanese job-alike educators at the conference.

Drawing on its leadership in the fields of International Baccalaureate and immersion education, the International School of Portland established the Spear Center in 2019. In 2021, it received a $246,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to further the center’s programming and growth. For further information about the Spear Center and future events, visit


About Deloris A. Spear Center for Excellence in Teaching
The Deloris A. Spear Center for Excellence in Teaching aims to serve as the hub for educational innovation and professional learning in the Pacific Northwest. Located within the International School of Portland’s campus in beautiful downtown Portland, Oregon, the Spear Center hosts workshops and conferences with world-renowned educators to support not only its own school faculty but those from the Portland area and beyond. The Spear Center provides opportunities for educators around the world to come together and share best practices in multicultural teaching, as well as to develop a network of highly skilled professionals who are invested in international education.

About the International School of Portland
Since 1990, the International School of Portland has offered full language and cultural immersion in a warm, loving environment that encourages curiosity and kindness. One of only two schools in the United States to provide three full language immersion programs under one roof, the International School of Portland is also home to the longest-running Chinese immersion program in the Pacific Northwest. It is also the only program in the country to offer full Japanese language immersion. It was the first school in the Pacific Northwest to adopt the renowned International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.
International School of Portland of Portland’s world-renowned professional faculty and staff—hailing from more than 17 countries—lovingly engage the school’s nearly 400 students in academics, PE and the arts. With its multilingual and cultural environment, the International School of Portland’s campus is a global microcosm, helping shape children who are open-minded, confident, empathetic and inclusive—traits that encourage them to take responsible action within and beyond our school community.