Pathways to a career in education in Puyallup
Pathways to a career in education in Puyallup
Posted on 05/18/2017

Alex BakerAlex Baker, currently a diesel mechanic for the transportation department, will be returning to Rogers High School this fall but this time to teach. Baker graduated from Rogers High School in 1995 then attended Bates Technical College for the auto mechanic program and later the diesel mechanic program. He also took classes in welding, hydraulics, and CAD/CAM. After owning his own construction company for several years he decided to return to Puyallup to work as a mechanic. This fall he will begin teaching his trade in a classroom setting.

Baker explained, “It gives me the chance to teach and mentor students the way I was, in the same shop, at the same high school. High school shop classes gave me my start in the industry. Teaching is a way for me to give my students the same direction and experiences my teachers gave to me.”

Baker is just one of many in Puyallup who are invested in the community and passionate about making an impact on students.

Ailene Baxter, director of human resources, staffing and school support, said, “These are folks who are motivated to make their community a better place. To them this is more than just a paycheck - these are future or current homeowners, parents of students, or those with a long history in Puyallup.”

Brittany Escudero began two years ago as a paraeducator at Stewart Elementary and is working through an alternative route Bachelors program at Pierce College and will begin student teaching this fall.

Escudero described, “I ran over to Pierce College to see what I needed to do to be a part of this program. After jumping through a few hoops I was accepted in November and started school full time in January! Now I am working during the day and going to school at nights, so you could say I'm busy and very tired! I am so excited to begin student teaching and be fully submerged in another classroom in the fall!“

Oruba Anthony

Oruba Anthony was a paraeducator at Woodland Elementary who began working in her own classroom as of last fall. 

In January of 2016 Anthony was invited to attend an informational meeting sponsored by the district human resources department, participants learned new alternative pathways to a teaching certification. She learned that based on her prior education she could get her teaching certification in less than one calendar year through the Pacific Lutheran University alternative pathway if everything went according to plan.

Anthony exclaimed, “In August of 2016 I was offered another opportunity of a lifetime. Based on my prior educational credentials and the fact I was enrolled in a teacher certification program I was offered a position to teach as a classroom teacher. Wow…I’m going to have my very own classroom. I’m going to have the opportunity to share my knowledge, shape the minds of our future. I’m going to have the opportunity to be the role model that I looked up to so much when I was growing up. I’m going to have the opportunity to be a TEACHER!”

In addition to the alternative pathways, the Puyallup School District has created opportunities for juniors and seniors in high school to begin their careers in education through Teaching Academy.

Teaching Academy is an 180-hour college-level course designed to give students the “total teaching experience.” The first 90 hours of instruction take place in a traditional classroom setting. Students learn about and explore learning theories and styles, teaching methods, and classroom management. During this time, students complete observations in local elementary, junior, and senior high schools. It is through these observations that students begin to understand the differences in grade levels, development, and teaching styles.

At the conclusion of the first 90 hours, students are placed with mentor teachers that match their grade and subject interest. During the second 90 hours they receive the practical, hands-on experience to complement their academic training.

The Teaching Academy/Careers in Education is a college-level course and offers the opportunity to earn college credit and/or waivers at colleges and universities in Washington State.

In spring of senior year, Krista McBride, human resources technician, supports graduating Teaching Academy students by stewarding them through the testing required to be a highly qualified paraeducator, the Puyallup School District pre-employment exam, and the application process. Teaching Academy students can continue learning, serving, working, and growing in a paraeducator role while attending college.

Jennie Muehlenbruch, Teaching Academy teacher at Emerald Ridge High School said, “I would safely say that I have well over 20 former Teaching Academy students currently teaching in the Puyallup School District. I would say that I have another 20 plus teaching in other districts and then another handful in college right now hoping to become teachers!“

All of these opportunities and pathways have helped fill teaching positions in a time where teachers are in such high demand while at the same time growing those already familiar and invested in the Puyallup community.

Devin Konsmo
konsmdm@puyallup.k12.wa.us