A key component of the TeachOregon initiative, the Teacher Cadets program supports high schoolers interested in becoming teachers. Modeled on a program in South Carolina, it launched here in 2014 to recruit high-achieving students of diverse backgrounds to teaching.
But Teacher Cadets is much more than a career-prep course for aspiring young teachers.
TeachOregon was a pioneering program designed to pilot innovative models for needs-driven teacher preparation. Launched in 2014 with funding from Chalkboard Project and the state’s Oregon Network for Quality Teacher and Learning, the initiative was demand driven, community directed, and proactively addressed the needs of teacher candidates, school districts, and the students they served.
Sue Dickman rarely used to volunteer to host teacher candidates (also known as student teachers) assigned to her classroom. A veteran teacher who has taught sixth grade for 20 years at Agnes Stewart Middle School in Springfield, she felt the setup shortchanged the teacher candidate as well as her own students.
Kellery Divilbiss wasn’t sure what to expect of her student-teaching experience. All she knew before starting her first day was that she was “definitely nervous.”
Fortunately for her, Divilbiss was placed in Kelsey Harris’s classroom at Salem’s Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Harris put her at ease right away, getting Divilbiss to help set up the second-grade room before the student even arrived to start the school year. “It’s all about having that trust,” Harris says.
Research suggests young people develop career choices as early as fourth grade. Waiting until a prospective teacher is college age may be too late because they have had years to cultivate a mindset of career ambitions that may not include teaching.