When the students become the teachers

Washington County starts a path towards teacher diversity with the Diverse Educator Pathway


Courtesy of TTSD

Senior Gloria Rosas Alcantara, senior Eddy Sanchez Mendez, Superintendent Rieke-Smith, board members and Tualatin High School seniors gather for a photo to celebrate the the initial group of students enrolled in the Diverse Educator Pathway Program. These seniors hope to be teachers in the district when they graduate from college.

By Maria Sotelo, Staff Writer

Oregon needs more teachers of color. What if they can change this for the next generation?

    The Washington County Diverse Educator Pathway is a program launched in November of 2018 by the Northwest Regional Education Service District; it’s intended purpose is to diversify teachers in the workforce.

     Among other things, the program invites students to participate in paid education-related internships over the summer. These internships can vary from helping with summer school to supporting 8th grade transition teams. The ideal goal is to eventually have these students return to their home districts and teach as bilingual educators.  

    Senior Gloria Rosas Alcantara is one of the students at Tigard who will take part in the program later this year. AVID teacher Tammy Hodgson told Alcantara about the program.

    “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, and it was just an extra help for me to be able to reach that goal,” Alcantara said.

    Senior Eddy Sanchez Mendez will also be joining the Washington County Diverse Educator Pathway. He became aware of its existence through former Tigard counselor Mariana Zaragoza.

    “When I heard, [about it] I told myself that I want to be a part of that. Then, I had an interview with the members of the program […]. A few weeks later, I received a message. I was accepted into the program,” Mendez said.

    Alcantara described what she knows about the program. Every summer for four years, she will be working with the administration and staff who will be helping her in her journey to become a teacher. After completing this, she will receive a certificate. After graduating, an automatic interview will take place, and from there she will return and work for TTSD.  

     Mariana Zaragoza, who was the Multicultural Coordinator at THS for two years before becoming the Pathway Coordinator in September, works closely with students to apply to the program’s partnering universities, Western Oregon University and PCC. She and others meet bi-weekly to ensure students meet the criteria set by the district for admittance into the program. Those interested in the program must meet with Zaragoza in order to see if they are eligible and meet criteria that is outlined for “future educators.”      

        Mendez meets the criteria, that includes being bilingual or culturally responsive, first generation, and seeking to pursue being educators within the district, which explains his eligibility. He is passionate about helping those who struggle in areas in school that are unable to learn because of language barriers. His ultimate goal is to become an Algebra teacher.

    “When I entered high school, I was in Algebra class, and I didn’t know any words in English. [I want] to help people who don’t speak English so they can feel comfortable and not go through the same situation,” Mendez said.

    The program is already impacting students in ways that go beyond benefitting their careers.  

    “This program has helped me to believe in myself. To not believe what people say about me, [and] to show them that with effort and dedication everything is possible,” Mendez said.

    For those interested in becoming a teacher for TTSD in the future, the next recruitment cycle begins Fall 2019 and ends March of 2020. Contact Mariana Zaragoza at [email protected] or (307) 399-9127 to get more information.