Goodbye, sweet Dessert

By Jared Debban

After 19 years of teaching at Tigard High, English teacher Joe Dessert is finally calling it good and retiring at the end of this school year. With a lasting impact left on students, he has achieved his goals. Dessert has worked hard over the years to make his classes enjoyable for all of his students so they can graduate knowing they gained something from his class.

Dessert has taught multiple classes at the Tigard High with his favorite being advanced freshman English. He gave the analogy that it was like “…herding chickens because they all followed each other around the class, and when one moved, they all moved.” He loved to teach the class because his students brought with them a “high sense of energy, and they wanted to do the best that they could.” Dessert said they were “a fun and exciting group to teach because it was always different.”

His speech class was available for all students to take and he made sure that every student was accomplishing something, whether it was gaining more confidence or just being able to talk in front of the class. He built connections by taking the time to individually interact with each student to provide the best environment for them to succeed. His grading was quick and efficient and he allowed students to redo speeches if they were unhappy with their grade. He graded on the spot so no one had to wait to get a grade. Along with this, he provided encouraging feedback and corrections by telling students what was good and what could be improved for their next speech.

Because of Dessert’s experience and fun personality, students who came to class to learn from what he had to say liked what he taught. He helped all of his students grow as people and public speakers. One student said, “Dessert worked hard to make sure that we succeeded and got the most out of his classes.”

These students appreciate what Dessert has done for them at the start of their four years in high school. “His teaching helped me speak better in public and will improve my future,” Derek Liu said. Many students have benefited from his class and what they learned.

Dessert will treasure his memories from his years at Tigard High School. He created “Shake-Offs” which he put together for students to recreate scenes from different plays written by Shakespeare. He did these twice a year for 19 consecutive years. Many of them are on YouTube with the oldest one from 1999. Dessert takes pride in what he has created over the years, telling me that he has had over 60 students performing at one Shake-Off over all of the years.

Dessert will be sticking around with his students for a while longer; you can find him in the gyms on Friday nights or early Saturday morning to referee a recreational basketball game or to umpire a few spring baseball games. Dessert will be sharing his passion for sports while continuing to see and interact with past students at these events.

Students that have taken his classes describe him as “an amazing teacher who provided a great learning environment for them.” Teachers also admire Dessert’s passion for teaching and how he accomplishes what he does. Michael Rogers said “I admire how he can do this job for as long as he has; he conducts himself so well, and he is the wittiest person I have ever met.”

Dessert has left a legacy at Tigard that will be remembered for years to come. He built lasting connections with teachers, and continues to teach his students in an unforgettable way. Dessert concluded with “you can touch all kinds of people in different ways; some will notice it right away, but others might think it was a negative encounter until looking back they realize that they really were touched by something special.”