REFLECTIONS FROM EDUCATION INNOVATION OFFICER, COLT GILL, ON HIS STATEWIDE ENGAGEMENT

Innovation in Central Oregon

Innovation was the theme during my multiple day visits with educators, students, families and community leaders in Warm Springs, Bend, La Pine, Redmond, Madras, Prineville and other Central Oregon communities. The area has a thriving a ESD, partnerships like the Better Together-Regional Achievement Collaborative, and engaged community groups such as the Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition.

I learned about efforts to expand the  Juntos program in the region’s schools given the high graduation and college persistence rates of Latino students who have been through the program. I met with high school students considering the field of education from the Teach Oregon Program. They were brilliant students who could help to diversify Oregon’s teaching force. I met with a group of business leaders that are working with the Bend-La Pine School District to design an innovation zone to teach technology and entrepreneurial skills. In meeting with members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, I learned of their efforts to infuse more culturally relevant and sustaining programming in the schools that support their children. These programs are essential to both connect with the students and community and to maintain local culture.

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