About Mrs. Sickenger


Classroom Philosophy:
The classroom should be a place for children to explore and develop in a supportive, creative and caring environment. It is a blessing and a privilege to work with students as they grow both academically and spiritually. My classroom philosophy stems from Catholic Social Teaching and my own experiences; focusing on mutual kindness and compassion, respect for self, others, and environment, and curiosity about the world in the past, present, and future.
Tell us about yourself:

Hi! My name is Mrs. Mariah Sickenger and I am very excited to join Saint Olaf Catholic School as the first-grade teacher. I grew up in Strawberry, California, and moved to Portland, Oregon to attend the University of Portland (UP). After receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, I participated in the Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education (PACE) program at UP and received my Masters of Arts in Teaching degree in August 2021. I taught third grade at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Kearns, Utah for the past three years. 

I am looking forward to the opportunity to become a part of the Saint Olaf family and walk with students on their learning journeys.

If you could have lunch with 1 person dead or alive, who would that be and why?
I would have lunch with my grandparents. They died when I was young and I would love to be able to sit down with them to learn more about my family history and get their advice and perspective on life.

What is something on your Bucket List?
I love to hike and be outdoors, so two items on the top of my bucket list are to section-hike the Pacific Crest Trail and visit all of the National Parks. Another item on my list is to visit Maine and try a lobster roll.

What book have you read that changed you and why?
In college, I stumbled upon the book, “The Secret Lives of Color”  in the library and kept it for so long that the late fees I accumulated could have paid for the book. I love how the author examines different colors and explains their historical significance, symbolism and how they are seen across cultures. It made me appreciate the beauty of our world more and pay attention to how color influences how we interact with different spaces.

What is your favorite thing about teaching or working with young people?
I love how open and accepting young people are. They are so earnest and genuine in their pursuit of connection with others and put their whole heart into everything they do. Every day I work with young people, my perspective changes, or they teach me something new. 

How would a friend describe you in three words?
Thoughtful, organized and accepting.

If you had to compare yourself to one fictional character, who would it be?
I would say that I am a combination of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie. Like Anne and Laura, I have a stubborn side and I am very passionate about the things and people that I care about. I also come from a very small town and can relate to both of their experiences of leaving and having to explore new places.

What is the best BAD decision you ever made?
In college, I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago with a Campus Ministry group. After the group portion of the trip, a friend and I decided to backpack around Spain for a few extra weeks with limited Spanish vocabulary and questionable Airbnb reservations. If I had to go back, I would plan that trip very differently, but we met so many interesting people and I learned a lot about myself on that trip.

When are you most yourself?
When I have comfy clothes on and am outside spending time with the people I love.

What could you spend all day talking about?
I love talking about building relationships and community. I find it fascinating the ways that people connect and grow together throughout life and in different circumstances.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Skiing, hiking, playing volleyball, cooking, and spending time with my family and friends.




  • B.A. in Social Work with minors in Social Justice and Theology from the University of Portland
  • M.A.T. in Elementary Education from the University of Portland


State of Oregon Teacher License