Sunday, November 29, 2015

Western Oregon University steps up to produce home-grown bilingual teachers

This is a really good, encouraging story about a community together with Western Oregon University (WOU) taking the lack of credentialled, bilingual teachers into their own hands.  There is a community already in place that is poised well for this opportunity. This of course requires a larger set of agreements such that once the candidate graduates from WOU, they are guaranteed a job interview in their home school district as part of the deal.  They also get "mentoring, guaranteed summer jobs as classroom tutors and extra academic support if they want it." 

bilingual scholars cohort 1.jpg
Forty-five bilingual students who graduate from high school in Hillsboro, Salem-Keizer and Monmouth this year were chosen for a special Western Oregon University program that will transform them into fully credentialled bilingual teachers for their hometown schools as soon as 2019. Most of them posed for a group photo as they began their freshman year in September. (courtesy of Western Oregon University)
Betsy Hammond | The Oregonian/OregonLive By Betsy Hammond | The Oregonian/OregonLive
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on November 12, 2015 at 7:38 AM, updated November 12, 2015 at 8:51 AM

Oregon schools are finding it nearly impossible to hire enough bilingual teachers to staff dual language immersion and English as a second language classes.

During 2014-15, only 81 new teachers earned an Oregon teaching license in those specialties. The Salem-Keizer district alone needed to hire 79 more bilingual teachers this year.

Dónde encontraran a todos los maestros?

Western Oregon University, that's where. In partnership with three large school districts, Western has created a special program to encourage high school graduates who read and speak both Spanish and English to become bilingual teachers.

Already, 45 young Oregonians from SalemHillsboro and Monmouth are on that path as freshmen at Western, with plans to graduate in 2019 as fully credentialed bilingual teachers. As part of the program, they are guaranteed a job interview in their home school district.

Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christie Perry and Hillsboro Superintendent Mike Scott said they are thrilled to know they have a bevy of Western-prepared bilingual teachers headed their way soon.
"These students are critical to meet the high demand that exists today and will continue to grow," Perry said.

Western's program offers entering freshmen who are proficient in Spanish and English scholarships and extra pre-professional support to encourage them to pursue a teaching career. They get mentoring, guaranteed summer jobs as classroom tutors and extra academic support if they want it.
The vast majority of the first group of students are from Spanish-speaking families and learned academic English and academic Spanish at school, said Western's dean of education, Mark Girod. Many of them are also first-generation college students, he said.

A few are native English speakers who learned Spanish very well during high school and will continue to develop Spanish expertise while in college, Girod said.

So far, the program is only offered to graduates from the three sponsoring school districts. Western's associate provost, David McDonald, said other school districts with the same need for bilingual teachers want to join in. Western would first need to raise more money to pay for the scholarships, he said.
-- Betsy Hammond


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