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January 6, 2017

Growing teachers to meet student needs

Bianca Lord earned a bachelor’s degree but never believed her dream of becoming a teacher would come true before she could earn a teaching certificate.

Now she’s in a classroom working with students every day as a special education resource room teacher at Lincoln Elementary.

“I felt teaching was calling my name,” says Lord.

Lord is one of several new teachers in the district this school year who are working in schools during the week and attending classes on nights and weekends to earn a K-8 teaching certificate with an endorsement in special education through Heritage University.

Accelerated-track teaching programs such as Lord’s are among the ways the district is working to staff classrooms as the state continues to experience a shortage of teachers.

“It has helped us a lot,” says Doug Christensen, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. “The new teachers deserve a lot of credit because they’re taking a lot of initiative.”

Lord, a Hermiston native, attended Washington State University (WSU) Tri-Cities and earned a degree in psychology. She took a job at the front desk of the district’s Administration Center about a year ago. There she learned of opportunities to pursue a teaching certificate while actively working in a classroom.

She enrolled in the master’s degree program at Heritage that has candidates work in a classroom while attending night and weekend classes to earn a teaching certificate with endorsements in either special education or English language learner (ELL) education. WSU Tri-Cities offers an undergraduate program to prepare paraeducators for similar teaching positions.

Lord started in Lincoln Elementary’s resource room this fall, working with students on reading and multiple other subjects to bring them up to grade level. She attends classes toward her certificate on Friday nights and on Saturdays. She will have earned her full certificate with an endorsement in special education before the end of summer.

“There’s a lot I’ve picked up on and what I’ve learned I’m already applying in the classroom,” Lord says.

Christensen encourages any other members of the community considering a career in teaching Kennewick students to explore the various teaching programs at regional universities, such as Heritage and WSU Tri-Cities. The district is eager to welcome anyone excited to teach and willing to develop the skills necessary to provide students a great education, he said.

Alternate Route Teaching Programs:

Heritage University Masters in Teaching Accelerate Program
The Heritage University Accelerate program at Heritage is the fastest route we offer to earn your Master in Teaching degree. It allows you to earn your degree in just one year while working as a paid full-time teacher. The program is challenging, but upon completion, you will be prepared to certify in Elementary Education with an additional endorsement in either Special Education, Bilingual Education or English Language Learner.

Washington State University Tri-Cities Parapro to Teacher
The Alternate Route program at WSU Tri-Cities recognizes the expertise that paraprofessionals bring with them from the classroom and works with them to apply those skills in the university. The program provides support for paraeducators in the Kennewick School District to receive credit for prior learning and work experiences, enroll in university courses, and receive an Elementary Education BA degree and K-8 endorsement and either a Special Education or ELL/Bilingual Education add on endorsement.