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Portland Teachers Program celebration set for May 27

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The 2011 graduates of the Portland Teachers Program will be honored at the annual Celebration of Students on Friday, May 27, at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St. The Celebration – the program’s 22nd – runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building Auditorium. A reception will precede the festivities from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Campus’ Student Center Cafeteria.

The graduates this year are Gina Bluebird, Robbie Davis, Maalaea Gustafson, Michelle Lloyd and Yolanda McKinney. They have spent the past five years earning first their bachelor’s degrees, and then completing a year of graduate work and student teaching to get an Oregon teaching license.

The program was created to place more culturally and ethnically diverse teachers in local public school classrooms. This year’s celebration also marks a milestone in the program’s history.

“Good teachers shape the minds of our future leaders and citizens,” said Deborah Cochrane, the program’s coordinator. “So we need to support and encourage good teachers, those who have the courage, patience, dedication and love to do this important, challenging work. Teachers are the single most important factor in the classroom in terms of academic achievement, and yet as a society, we place far too little value on teachers and teacher education.”

Sarah Gonzales is the first Portland Teachers Program graduate to arise from the program’s partnership with the Beaverton School District, first established in 2007. Gonzales, who attended grade school and high school in Beaverton, will return there to assume her teaching duties.

A host of aspiring teachers and alumni will also be recognized at the celebration. The future teachers range from freshmen to graduate students, and the alumni represent teachers and administrators who have graduated from the program over the past 21 years. Also in attendance will be participants’ families; leaders from the African American, Native American, Latino and Asian American communities; and representatives from education, business and government.

The Portland Teachers Program is a partnership among Portland Public Schools, Portland Community College, Portland State University, the University of Portland and Beaverton School District, designed to increase the number of culturally competent teachers for Portland and Beaverton schools, with a special focus on the recruitment of historically underrepresented groups. Implemented in late 1989 as a response to the critical shortage of culturally and ethnically diverse teachers, the program has graduated nearly 140 teachers, most of whom continue to teach in Portland schools. Several have also become principals and vice principals.

For more information, call the program’s coordinator Deborah Cochrane, (971) 722-5444.

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