Guaranteed interview with VPS
Janney and students from around Vancouver charted a path from Careers in Education to jobs with districts. But due to low enrollment, the program eventually was scaled back to a single one-period class by the same name at Fort Vancouver High School.
That didn’t stem the need for teachers. The state of Washington’s Professional Educator Standards Board in 2016 identified a 250 percent increase in demand for teachers over the previous five years.
District leaders in Vancouver also are interested in further diversifying its teaching workforce. During the 2016-17 school year, 41.8 percent of Vancouver Public Schools students were students of color. By comparison, 11.1 percent of VPS teachers were teachers of color. Studies have shown that students often to do better in school when at least one of their teachers is of a race or ethnicity similar to their own.
Now Vancouver Public Schools is banking on the new Careers in Education program to create a pipeline for the next generation of teachers. The program will return in fall 2018 for students in 11th through 12th grades. It will be located at the Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies, but students from all over the district may apply beginning Jan. 10.
Over two class periods each day, students will learn the theory and mechanics of teaching, such as lesson planning. They’ll also put their learning into practice in a real classroom, where they’ll be paired with a mentor teacher.
The benefits extend beyond high school. Students can earn up to five college credits through Lower Columbia College and prepare to take the Washington state paraeducator exam. Passing the exam and earning a high school diploma could lead to employment anywhere in the state. VPS also will guarantee an interview for any student who has completed the Careers in Education program and wishes to work in the district.
Fort Vancouver teacher Megan St. Clair, who currently teaches the class, believes that the resurrected program can serve students interested in a range of jobs beyond the teaching profession, including nursing, counseling and social and human service occupations.
“I am excited to see different perspectives coming into the classroom and them being able to do that hands-on experience every day so that they can apply what they learned in class and actually go out into the field,” St. Clair said.
High school senior Alexandra Mayo, left, works with a kindergartner at Ogden Elementary School.
A different world
Like Janney, Alexandra Mayo got the teaching bug early. “I started wanting to be a teacher in fifth grade. I like helping people,” said the now-senior at the Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies.
After observing and student teaching at both the high school and elementary levels through her education class at Fort, Mayo plans to attend Washington State University Vancouver next year and eventually teach history at the secondary level. “I think my teaching style will be fun and creative, but still bring back older tactics that teachers have used,” she said, adding, “I’m excited to have my own classroom.”
For this future teacher, Careers in Education is a powerful introduction to the profession. “You get to see a new perspective,” Mayo said. “Being a student, you don’t think about the teacher’s side of everything. … It’s like a different world.”