Many students would love to get inside the mind of a teacher. For the past two years, some Hermiston students have been taking a class that allows them to do that — with the hopes of finding out if they’d like to be teachers themselves.
Students in the Oregon Teacher Pathway class conducted research projects, each focusing on a specific aspect of teaching and how it impacts student success. The eighteen students will present their findings at the second annual Oregon Teacher Pathway Research Night, at Hermiston High School’s library on Monday, May 21 at 6 p.m.
In its second year at Hermiston High School, the research-based class aims to foster diversity in the field of teaching, and give students the opportunity to gain college credit while still in high school, and to encourage them to become teachers.
Research topics included changing core requirements to affect the dropout rate, the benefits of preschool programs, including career and technical education in core requirements, and how handwriting instruction impacts student success.
Some students picked a topic to which they had a personal connection.
Senior Stephanie Miears wrote her paper about teacher-student relationships in the classroom — a topic she said was inspired partly by her own experience.
“I’ve had good teachers,” she said. “Our relationships have made me want to be a better student.”
Courtney Wheeler’s research paper was about programs that low-income schools offer to students.
“I thought it would be easy to relate to, because we have so many low-income schools here,” she said.
She said she found out about projects like the Backpack Program, which sends students home with a backpack full of food supplies, as well as helping students afford clothing or activities.
“We just had our prom, and upstairs (at Hermiston High School), there was a place to donate dresses,” she said. “If you couldn’t afford it, you could find a dress there.”
Hannah Thompson’s project focused on how teachers can reach students with different learning styles.
“One thing I learned is that students benefit from knowing what type of learner they are,” she said. Thompson said she was able to observe some of the different learning styles in action while working at a local elementary school. During math lessons, she said, styles would become more apparent.
“One liked to use graphs, and one would prefer a number line,” she said.
Students spent the whole year in the Oregon Teacher Pathway class learning about different aspects of teaching, and honing their research skills.
“We’re used to the ‘intro paragraph, three body paragraphs, closing paragraph,’” Thompson said. These essays were longer and more detailed, she said, and students learned how to navigate some of the research databases that will become frequently-used tools in college.
Teacher Ericka Keefauver said the program has grown, from nine students last year to 18 this year, and she hopes to see even more sign up in the future.
Four of this year’s students, including Miears, Thompson and Wheeler, are headed to Eastern Oregon University to study education.