Life is always full of obstacles, but overcoming these obstacles in order to achieve your dreams is what really defines a person. Teaching isn’t always the most profitable of careers, but it is often the most pivotal – not only for the students but for the teacher as well.

 

For Carmen Lawson, teaching is a momentous charge. “I’m not going to be a doctor, I wasn’t born to catalog rock samples from Mars, and I definitely will never be in the Oval Office. Something I can do is teachfuture politicians to be tolerant and loving to all cultures. I can teachfuture engineers data collecting skills that they need to persevere for travel to new corners of space and the ocean floor. And I can teachfuture doctors and scientists to problem solve tirelessly until diseases have cures.”

 

Yet, as Lawson works toward her MAT degree from OSU-Cascades, she encounters difficulties above and beyond the education and the training itself. Lawson faced over a $1000 in licensure fees before recently receiving the first disbursements of the Teacher Licensure Support Fund scholarship. As she says, “With all of the expenses that make up the nickels and dimes of our family budget, a great weight settles on my shoulders as I look at the difficult reality of accomplishing my goals.”

 

With the scholarship award, Lawson can take a deep breath and more easily look ahead. “Being awarded these funds helps reduce my stress level and optimize my chances of success as an OSU-Cascades student.” She can now better focus her efforts on her schooling, family and the future.

 

Within the College of Education, we are acutely aware of the financial burdens our students confront. We wish to do all that we can to help unburden them. With the day of giving and other fundraisers, we work toward helping to relieve this stress for our graduates, the future leaders and educators of our communities.

 

Every donation received goes into a general fund to help cover the demanding licensure fees, and to give our amazing students, like Dawson, the ability to concentrate on what’s most important.

 

Donate Today!

 

 

Heather Anderson doesn’t sit back and hope for success to reach her, she is an active participant in all of her successes – and she sure isn’t stopping now!

 

Anderson won the 2016 Oregon Teacher of the Year, she received the 2017 National Education Association Teaching in Excellence Award, and she is a National Board Certified Teacher who has been teaching for 18 years. However, this impressive list of achievements did not come from luck. Anderson worked hard to be recognized, and never took the easy route to achieve her goals.

 

“It was humbling and amazing to be recognized as 2016 Oregon Teacher of the Year,” she says. “The award has allowed me to work on educational policy changes in our state to help support teachers and students.”

 

But when Anderson won Oregon Teacher of the Year in 2016, she realized there wasn’t just one reason for her success, but several – and that her path to becoming the best teacher possible began very early on.

 

Born and raised in Bend, Anderson established her roots and love of education in Oregon. Not only was her mother a teacher, so was her grandmother. Today, she still lives in Bend, but now with her own family. Having a strong community and growing up with such important influences, she simply knew teaching would be her calling.

 

Anderson says, “I loved to read as a child and now I love to instill the love of reading in children as a teacher.”

 

Anderson’s father graduated from Oregon State University in 1970, and raised his daughter to be a “beaver believer” as well. When it came time for her to pick a school, it was a natural choice to attend Oregon State University. And after graduating from Bend High School in 1996, Anderson enrolled at Oregon State.

 

However, her time at Oregon State was more than just about getting a great education. Anderson swam on the swim team, and joined a sorority; she learned the importance of being a part of a team, teamwork and social participation. “I was a member of Kappa Delta sorority and that allowed me leadership opportunities and skills that have also helped me in my career.” Outside her studies at Oregon State, Anderson used her time to give back to the Corvallis community. “Volunteering in a variety of elementary schools during my education at OSU helped me to learn what it was like to be a teacher and prepared me for working in schools in different settings.”

 

Anderson launched her teaching career in Maryland, and moved back to Oregon with her husband after six years on the east coast. She later obtained her Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from George Fox University and her Graduate Certificate in Teacher Leadership from Johns Hopkins University. Continuing in her scholarship (while also teaching fulltime), Anderson is a current doctoral candidate at Walden University in the Educational EdD program.

 

As a Reading and Math Intervention teacher at Juniper Elementary in Bend, Oregon, she realizes that all of those late nights and long hours of work and study are well worth the time and effort. But even in those difficult moments she remains optimistic and says, “I stay positive on hard days by remembering my focus and the reasons I teach. I also believe that my positive outlook impacts my students and I want to be a good example for them on a daily basis.”

 

And as she helps to navigate the next generation of educators into their professions, Anderson motivates them by saying, “Teaching is important! You are valued and appreciated by your community. Teaching is a rewarding job that can be challenging and overwhelming at times, however it is worth every moment.”

 

Anderson explores every new opportunity as she looks toward the future. “Educational technology has impacted my job by providing resources for students that need additional support, creative outlets and as an extension for children that need challenges in my classroom,” she says. Furthermore, her students will never be left behind on any front, “My school has an annual Juniper Film Festival where every classroom makes a student-created movie and then we celebrate the end of the year with a large celebration.” And if that was not enough, Anderson works for every student’s tomorrow, “We teach our elementary students basic coding, problem solving, and collaboration skills utilizing educational technology.”

 

In the end, there is no magic shortcut to being a successful teacher, but Anderson knows what it takes: “Be positive, work hard and you can make a difference in your classroom and community.” If that is not enough, she does have one simple equation to push our aspiring teachers onward, “Effective effort + Strategies = Success.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know your goals, know your path, give back, be a leader, these simple tenets offer the greatest rewards. For Marinda Peters, counseling was her goal, her path and ultimately her reward.

 

“My passion is for the betterment of our society, and I truly believe that our young people are our future, so if we can support our young people to be the best citizens that they can be or the most successful that they can be within their definition of success, I want to be a part of that,” says Peters, an OSU graduate and adjunct instructor at OSU-Cascades.

 

In 2014, Peters won the Oregon School Counselor of the year award. This impressive recognition is evaluated on the ability to create systemic change within the profession of school counseling. Through her own significant leadership, collaboration and advocacy skills, Peters was able to achieve increased student success and create fundamental change within her school.

 

On winning the award, Peters says, “I think it was really affirming the work that I do is valuable both how the students perceive it, but also how professionals in this area perceive it.”

 

Since receiving the Oregon School Counselor of the Year award, Peters went on to earn her Ph.D. in Counseling through OSU. She currently works as a counselor in Neil Armstrong Middle School in Forest Grove, Oregon, where she supports 450 seventh grade students. She assists them with social issues, career readiness, and academic advising. In addition to student counseling, she is also a Crisis Response Flight Team counselor.

 

For Peters, however, counseling is so much more than a job, “To be able to go to work every day and know that I’m making a difference and to feel that difference and to see that growth, really binds well with the passion that I have.” Her work is her calling, “I’m able to get paid for what I love to do, which is pretty amazing.”

 

As the primary breadwinner of her family, Peters believed that by pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling she could not only make a significant positive impact with her students, but also her family. Still, she was not entirely certain how should could find the time, “The reality that I needed to be able to continue to work and do my job was really, really important.” When she learned about OSU’s hybrid program for the Ph.D. in Counseling, Peters knew she had found the answer to balancing school and work life, “This hybrid format allowed me to have access in a way that no other program was even close to allowing me.”

 

Regardless, embarking on such a daunting endeavor was intimidating. “I appreciated that [the program] was hybrid and not just online.” Peters was able to take advantage of all aspects of OSU’s unique platform, “I think there was a balance between the format working well, the instructors doing a good job using that format, and my cohort rocking it! They were so much fun.”

 

Oregon State University’s Ph.D. in Counseling degree prepares candidates to become advanced practitioners, clinical supervisors, and counselor educators in clinical and academic settings. The aim of this program is to develop skills in research that help to recognize and address the societal changes of diverse communities and their cultures. Ultimately, the candidates are readied to become leaders in their fields and advocates for change. And with this foundation, Peters recognized the multi-layered benefits of returning to school and completing her doctorate.

 

Looking back on her career before getting her Ph.D., she asks, “How did I ever do my job before? I’m so much more professional, and I have such a better theoretical base than I would’ve otherwise.”

 

Now, by extending her experience as an adjunct professor at OSU-Cascades, Peters is able to impart her own skills and knowledge with incoming students; “I think the quality of education that I got was pretty solid, so I really like giving back to a system that I believe in.”

 

She views her teaching opportunities as a way to motivate and encourage. “I think that people are inspired because they appreciate how others can change and better themselves and I think that if we truly believe that people have the capacity to find their inner resilience, then we can do our job in a meaningful way.”

 

Peters truly believes that being a middle school counselor is how she can change lives and make a difference in the world, particularly as she reflects back on her primary education experience and her own school counselor. “The culture of acceptance and love that she provided for the school was really inspiring.” She is now the one creating a culture of acceptance and love for her students.

 

Master of Arts in Teaching alumna Lural Ramirez hopes that new teachers dream big.

 

“College of Education students coming out of a really strong program like Oregon State’s should challenge and stretch themselves,” she says. “It’s important to be open minded, and learn new things. Dream big.”

 

Ramirez has been dreaming big herself since arriving at Oregon State in the early 2000s. “What was fantastic about the MAT program was the intensiveness. The program does a great job mixing pedagogical theory with time spent working with students and engaging more as a teaching professional.”

 

When Ramirez graduated, she felt fully prepared to enter the classroom. “I had a lot of good knowledge, and I had a lot of job offers coming out. I was a really good teacher candidate thanks to the program.”

 

Ramirez worked at Lincoln Elementary school in Corvallis after graduating, where she helped start a dual immersion program in Spanish and English. But after ten years, she was ready to dream a little bigger. “It was really inspiring to see all the changes we brought about at Lincoln. And I’d always wanted to move abroad.”

 

“I think that if you always stay in the same place, speaking the same language, working the same job, you’re not learning as much as you could.”

 

So Ramirez and her family moved to Costa Rica, where she joined Futuro Verde. “It’s one of the most inspiring schools I’ve ever worked at,” she says.

 

Futuro Verde is a bilingual IB (International Baccalaureate) world school located in rural Costa Rica. Their curriculum weaves environmental education and social justice in with the core classes, challenging students to be critical thinkers and learners.

 

Futuro Verde received its IB designation just this year after clearing a five year authorization process. “We have 185 students, and typically IB schools have between 500 and 1,000 students. We were told by the authorization board that they had never seen a school that was so small and rural that fulfilled the requirements to become an IB world school.”

 

Starting in 2019, students graduating from Futuro Verde will have the IB distinction on their diploma, something that Ramirez says will open countless doors for them. “We can already see a shift…they are much better thinkers and they are much better learners, but they also have much bigger dreams.”

 

“We’ve opened up this world of possibility for them.”

 

Futuro Verde is a nonprofit school, with around 35% of students receiving some kind of financial assistance. This sets it apart from other private schools, Ramirez says, and also ensures a more diverse student body.

 

Futuro Verde is also unique in its commitment to sustainability. The school has the highest green certification allowable in the country of Costa Rica, and all students take environmental education classes from the age of three.

 

“Our environmental education is a mix of theory and a lot of practice. We’re surrounded by native jungle. There’s howler monkeys in our trees. We want to embrace that nature. So we don’t have any doors or windows on classrooms, everything is very open. The animals come in and the students go out.”

 

“It’s a way for children to grown up very connected to the world around them.”

 

Students at Futuro Verde receive a holistic education. From the age of three, they take math, science, history, English, and Spanish classes, but they also take classes in visual arts, music, physical education, and swimming. “There’s also a comparative language study that gets the students thinking meta-linguistically about language development.”

 

“The students are not sitting for two hours doing math. Our kids are doing the math, but not necessarily in math classes. We believe they should have opportunities to learn in lots of different ways.”

 

Each graduating student is fully bilingual in Spanish and English, as classes are taught half in Spanish and half in English. Many students are often multilingual with as many as ten different languages spoken in the homes of students.

 

Students at Futuro Verde also have the opportunity to participate in sports, such as swimming. “Our kids are incredibly gifted athletically. They go to nationals, and we have kids qualifying for central american games.”

 

“We have a swim team that’s just incredible, and we don’t even have a pool. They train in the ocean and rivers. Then they go to these competitions in giant olympic sized pools they’ve never even seen before, and then they win! They have unbelievable grit.”

 

This year, the school received a donation that will go towards building a sports facility for the student athletes. “It’s amazing to see people around the world inspired and wanting to contribute and support our school,” Ramirez says.


Ramirez says the advice she would give to new teachers is to never stop dreaming. “It can be easy to think, maybe I did my student teaching in first grade so I’m going to find a first grade position, but it’s really important to stretch yourself. Can you be open to a possibility in a teaching assignment that goes beyond the class that you’re teaching that makes more of a community impact? Can you help develop a program at your school that has a really important impact on the community?”

 

“The most important questions you can ask are: what can I use my skills for, and how can I make the greatest impact on the community I’m choosing to work in?”

 

To find out more about Ramirez and Futuro Verde; visit the school’s website at:

https://www.futuro-verde.org/