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OSU, district team up for teacher training

'Teach for Beaverton' combines instruction and skilled mentorship

The Beaverton School District and Oregon State University have started a unique collaboration designed to do one thing: Build a better teacher.

No, this isn’t a project of OSU’s engineering program.

Known as “Teach for Beaverton,” the partnership teams the university’s College of Education faculty with some of the local district’s best teachers to provide both instruction and close mentorship for at least a dozen future teachers in the two-year training program aimed at developing elementary teachers.

The first cohort of students, likely to be 12 to 14, currently is submitting applications before a May 1 deadline. Following prerequisite summer classes, major coursework and classroom experience (both offered locally) will begin this fall.

At least 50 people have applied or expressed interest but organizers are continuing to encourage qualified applicants, including members of under-represented ethnic or gender groups and people interested in teaching as a second career.

District and OSU officials also are in the process of recruiting mentors.

We’re looking for people who are really excellent — Matt Nyman, coordinator for the Master of Arts in Teaching program for OSU.

Nyman said the partnership may expand in future years to include additional student teachers and eventually might train students to teach at the middle and high school levels.

Teach for Beaverton graduates won’t be guaranteed a district teaching job upon graduation and licensure, but they will have part-time jobs in six participating schools during their first year and full-time jobs during the second, when much of their learning takes place in a local school building.

The Beaverton district also will pay its mentor teachers an extra 20 percent for the additional time and work the role brings, Nyman said.

Nyman said the groups previously had started a partnership, but it had to be shelved until this year.

“It ran into the buzzsaw of the recession of 2008,” he explained.

Now that the economy has recovered, jobs in education are more plentiful, Nyman said, but there’s a need to better prepare future teachers.

“We’ve worked really, really hard to develop this great relationship with Beaverton,” Nyman said.

The program offers coursework that includes teaching students with special needs, classroom management and K-5 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) integration.

“We believe every student, regardless of background, deserves a great education every day of every year. And the key to a great education is a great teacher,” said Sue Robertson, the district’s chief human resource officer. “We can make this a reality by fully supporting and preparing teachers to meet the needs of all students during their very first year of teaching.”

Nyman said the program also goes beyond theories to bring real experience only gained through practice.

“One of our cool aims is to really bring the people who want to be teachers into the school culture,” he said.