Western Oregon University supports multilingual learners in schools through grant

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Western Oregon University received a five-year grant from the US Department of Education through the Office of English Language Acquisition’s program Project PROMISE, which provides professional development for teachers both in-service and pre-service, to support multicultural and multilingual student learners. 

“I’m hopeful in the ways this grant affords the capacity to build a network across Oregon that can be informed advocates, educators, and impact instruction for multilingual learners in schools,” shared Kristen Pratt, Ph.D., one of the principal investigators of the grant. “The idea of equipping the students who come through our program with the tools they need to be effective educators for multilingual learners students and families is really powerful.”

The first component is pre-service teacher support, which offers scholarships and mentoring to current undergraduate students majoring in education and receiving an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement at Western. The second component, in-service ESOL teacher support, targets current teachers working in dual-language early elementary school settings who do not possess an ESOL endorsement.  

Curriculum development is also a component, involving revising the current curriculum to be culturally sustaining, ensuring it reflects the diverse experiences and backgrounds of the students. The home-school connections are also a part of this, which includes partnerships with the Salem-Keizer School District and Hillsboro School District

Mentorship also plays a large role. Current teachers who have completed the program are paired with pre-service students to offer guidance and support. They also participate in a leadership and mentoring graduate seminar, where they complete coursework and engage in relevant readings.

“The most exciting thing about this grant is the ability to impact different levels of educational decisions within two Oregon districts. We can have an impact not just on current and future teachers, but also on the students and their families. We can impact whole communities,” said Maria Dantas-Whitney, Ph.D., co-PI on the grant. 

Western acknowledges that this grant would not be possible without the work of the school district partners, Western faculty and staff in the College of Education, partnerships with evaluators, and the students and families who participate in the program so data and research can be gathered for this grant along the way.


About Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University, established in Monmouth in 1856, proudly stands as Oregon’s oldest public university. Hosting around 4,000 students, Western embodies a mid-sized, NCAA Division II institution, with approximately 80% of its students hailing from within the state. Notably, its diverse student body comprises individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, veterans, and non-traditional learners. Western stands as the preferred campus in Oregon for those pursuing an enriching education within a nurturing, student-focused environment, characterized by faculty-led instruction.  Together we succeed.

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