The Pacific University College of Education renewed its "Partnership to Transform the Delivery of Education Opportunities in the Woodburn Community" with Chemeketa Community College, the Woodburn School District and CAPACES Leadership Institute in a formal meeting last Thursday at the university's Woodburn campus.
Pacific Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs John Miller, College of Education Dean Leif Gustavson and Woodburn Campus Director Kevin Carr renewed the agreement on behalf of the university, with representatives from Chemeketa, Woodburn School District and CAPACES.
The partnership addresses the growing need for educators who are both practice- and culturally-competent in teaching Latino students, who comprise the state's fastest growing population.
In Woodburn, close to 75 percent of K-12 students are Latino, while the educator workforce is still predominantly Caucasian.
"Teachers who are committed not just to the school in which they work, but to building and uplifting the community to which they belong, are critical to the community's social and economic health," said Carr, a longtime Woodburn resident, Pacific professor and area educator who spearheaded the partnership. "We partner with communities to create pathways to teaching that work to meet this need."
Since the partnership began three years ago, recruitment has targeted minority students beginning in middle school, who complete prerequisite work through Chemeketa and complete their elementary teaching degree at Pacific University.
The Bachelor of Education in elementary education and English language learning degree at Pacific includes an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement.
"Students need to see themselves in teachers they learn with, and we feel a responsibility to do everything we can to meet this need," Gustavson said.
"Equity, social justice, embracing the diversity that enriches our schools are at the heart of what we do here in Woodburn specifically and within the College of Education more broadly."
Pacific's partnership with Chemeketa and Woodburn began in 2014 to position students in Marion County for a lifetime of success. The 22-month degree program based in Woodburn now includes a clinical teaching experience within a Woodburn or Salem-Keizer district school.
Later this month, the latest class of students in the partnership will graduate with their bachelor's degrees, including Diana Reyes.
She started her coursework at Chemeketa Community College and received her associate degree while working in a therapeutic classroom with 2- to 4-year-olds. During this time, she realized she enjoyed teaching and working with children.
"What led me to Pacific was actually my second-grade teacher, who knew I was somewhat interested in education," Reyes said. "She sent me a brief explanation of the Pacific program, and I immediately sought to learn more. A short time later I filled out my application and before I knew it I was enrolled at Pacific and into my first semester."
Reyes has been extremely pleased with her experience. "Pacific has prepared me for a career in education since the very first week of school," she said. "The Woodburn Pacific program is very hands-on with a deep commitment to lifetime learning. Since the start of the program, the support and feedback from my professors and classroom supervisors has been incredibly helpful and a crucial component when reflecting and preparing future lessons."
Pacific University's College of Education first started offering graduate teaching courses in Woodburn in 2011, with emphases on the STEM disciplines and community-based teacher preparation.
Pacific opened its campus in Woodburn in 2013.