WOU wins grant funding to expand effort to diversify Oregon’s teaching force

WOU wins grant funding to expand effort to diversify Oregon’s teaching force

The Oregon Department of Education and the Educator Advancement Council announced in March that the College of Education was among the 2020-2021 recipients of the Grow Your Own/Teacher Pathways grant.

WOU will receive more than $291,000 to create new hybrid and online courses for aspiring educators in rural areas, infuse equity initiatives into the curriculum, improve advising systems for students transferring from community colleges,and provide financial support for students.

Richard Woodcock Education Center, which houses the College of Education, in the spring of 2021.

Dr. Maria Dantas-Whitney, a professor and the coordinator for the Bilingual Teacher Scholars Program, said the grant will allow the College of Education (COE) to expand and formalize a new Rural Pathways Partnership Program (RP3), which will be a customized grow-your-own/stay-at-home pathway specifically for aspiring elementary teachers from rural areas. 

I am very excited about the work we’re doing as part of this grant project, which will allow us to build access and equity in our program delivery and curriculum, as well as connect with aspiring diverse educators in rural parts of Oregon,” Dr. Dantas-Whitney said. “Ultimately, we will see the results in PK-12 classrooms for Oregon children and their families.”

In this new program, the COE will provide these pathways to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) students from the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and three educational service districts: Douglas, Northwest Regional and Linn Benton Lincoln. The program will include degree completion, licensure and added endorsements in English for Speakers of Other Languages or Special Education. 

Dr. Dantas-Whitney said the grant funds will allow COE to redesign early childhood/elementary coursework to create online and hybrid licensure pathways for rural stay-at-home CLD educators. As the college develops these pathways, Dantas-Whitney said staff will also engage with rural educators, community partners, students and families to improve place-conscious approaches and eliminate barriers for these educators. The university will also develop a new undergraduate Special Education concentration for rural educators and create transfer maps that will allow candidates to easily move from any Oregon community college into the early childhood/elementary pathways. 

Dr. Dantas-Whitney added that COE plans to create a virtual interactive navigation tool for districts, students, families, and college instructors/staff offering pathway advising, tracking candidate progress, and connecting candidates to scholarships, professional development and employment.

Dr. Dantas-Whitney and Dr. Kristen L. Pratt will serve as co-directors of the project. Dr. Pratt added that she is “delighted for all of the work we are able to do as a result of this grant. The funding from this grant will help us build lasting pathways for more equitable access, hold space for the voices of our partners, students and future students and develop and align systems and curriculum that will better serve communities, students and families across Oregon.”

Additional Division of Education & Leadership faculty involved in this grant effort include: Drs. Marie LeJeune, Anne Ittner, Katrina Hovey, Ken Carano, Shari Hopkins, Rachel Harrington, Jessica Dougherty, and Andrea Emerson. Additionally, advisors Darlene Fritz and Kolbie Kopp will work with community college partners on the continued development of WOU 2+2 transfer maps.

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