A group of almost two dozen high school students enrolled at the Renton Teacher Academy visited Central Washington University last week to get a taste of life on a university campus, a media release from Central Washington University stated.
The students from all three Renton School District high schools — Hazen, Lindbergh and Renton — are interested in becoming teachers.
The teacher academy is designed to help recruit and support students, particularly students of color, the release stated.
The release added, the academy also works to help students consider teaching in high demand areas such as science, technology, mathematics, English as a second language and special education.
“This gives the students an opportunity to, perhaps for the first time, walk on a college campus and learn what (it) would be like to take classes, eat meals and live the college life for 24 hours, Carla Smith, a teacher coordinator at the academy, said in the release.
This annual summer component of the academy is hosted by Central Washington University to encourage future students to make a lasting connection to the campus and its education programs.
Kendall Goodman, a 2018 graduate from Lindbergh High School, visited Central this year. The release stated this was Goodman’s third academy related trip across the mountains.
“During the Central trips, I specifically learned about endorsements and the technicalities involved in getting a degree in education,” Goodman said in the release. “That was very helpful.”
Come September, Goodman will return to Ellensburg to begin her college career as a Wildcat. The release stated she will begin her journey to becoming an elementary school teacher.
The Renton Teacher Academy was launched in 2007 and is among one of the longest running programs of its kind statewide.
Alex Castro, now a fifth grade teacher at Benson Hill Elementary, was among one of the programs first graduates.
He graduated from Central in 2017 and volunteered during this year’s trip to help new academy members.
“If it wasn’t for this program, I don’t think I would be where I am today,” Castro said in the release, he noted that he originally wanted to be an accountant. “Although I really liked education in school, and worked well with kids, I didn’t think of teaching as a career. When the (RTA) program was presented, I decided to try it for a year and see what it had to offer. I was instantly hooked and it helped me realize that this (teaching) is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Central Washington education professor, Eric Hougan, helped found and now serves at CWU’s liaison with the RTA worked with students during their visit to Ellensburg.
“Student demographics are changing and we are in need of a teacher workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our students,” he said in the release. “Diversifying the teacher workforce has many benefits. When we have a demographic match between teachers and students, research is showing more positive outcomes for students of color, such as in test scores and on discipline. Plus, teachers of color may serve as role models and counter some students’ stereotypes. There’s strength in learning from people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.”