BOULDER, Colo. – Eastern Oregon University (EOU) has received the Colleagues’ Choice Innovation Award for its program that focuses on training culturally responsive teachers who work with students from diverse backgrounds.
Students from diverse backgrounds make up a third of the student population in Oregon public schools. The Oregon Teacher Pathway (OTP) program at EOU offers high school students dual credit courses in introduction to education and culturally responsive practices, as well as a weekly field experience tutoring elementary school students. The goal of the OTP program is to strengthen the workforce pipeline of quality, trained, and diverse educators. Research shows that students of color achieve higher academic success when they are exposed to teachers of color and teachers trained in culturally responsive practices.
“Relationships are critical to the success of the Oregon Teacher Pathway program,” said Rae Ette Newman, interim dean, College of Education at EOU. “I nominated this program because the work we’re doing is creating connections, impacting students’ ability to attend college, and building a sense of pride in the community.”
The Western Academic Leadership Forum presented the award to EOU at its annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona. The Forum is a membership organization for provosts, academic vice presidents, chief executives, and chief academic officers within the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), one of four such regional higher education commissions in the United States. The award recognizes innovative achievements among four-year institutions and systems in the West that advance equity for student success.
“We are honored to have been selected for this award,” said OTP Director Tawnya Lubbes. “As a grow-your-own teaching program, our practices have proved to be successful through partnerships in regional schools. The program provides a promising pathway for students to reach their career goals while building strong educators who serve their communities in a culturally and linguistically responsive way.”
Through the program, Oregon high school students can enroll in a year-long course worth four college credits, as well as work with mentors, interact with leading scholars, conduct research, and visit the EOU campus in La Grande, Oregon. Program participants qualify for a tuition discount at EOU and agree to mentor high school students in their home communities and fellow college students pursuing teacher education. They also receive mentorship and professional development including interaction with national scholars during their collegiate studies and are supported into their first years of teaching.
Since 2015, the program has had 334 high school students participate, with 113 choosing EOU to pursue studies in teacher preparation with a 93% retention rate. With 37 program graduates, 89% are currently teaching in rural Oregon. The program is funded by state grants through the Educator Advancement Council and a partnership with EOU. Visit www.eou.edu/otp to learn more.
Eastern Oregon University guides student inquiry through integrated, high-quality liberal arts and professional programs that lead to responsible and reflective action in a diverse and interconnected world. Visit www.edou.edu/visitor.
Since 1953, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has been strengthening higher education, workforce development, and behavioral health throughout the region. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. WICHE members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States. Visit www.wiche.edu.