Reflections from Education Innovation Officer, Colt Gill, on his Statewide Engagement

Educators Umatilla

Engaging in Union, Umatilla, and Morrow Counties…

Data, partnerships, and student-centered pathways were key takeaways after visiting communities in Northeast Oregon last week. This region has been a long-time leader in developing relevance for high school students by delivering college credits to high school students through the Eastern Promise model. This is an impressive partnership across the districts served by Intermountain ESD, Blue Mountain CC, and Eastern Oregon University. The program stretches down to the elementary level with “Academic Momentum” setting students up with a 10-year plan for their future school and career goals. Students in Eastern Promise classes had a 28 percentage point higher high school completion rate (2013-14 data: 68.5% completion rate for Oregon students vs 96.6% completion rate for Eastern Promise students) and their college persistence rates are over 40 percentage points higher than students across Oregon.

La Grande and Morrow County School Districts highlighted outstanding community partnerships. Well over forty partners come together in significant ways to make La Grande’s Career Technical Education (CTE) Program meaningful and future-focused for students. Programs are offered in natural resources, industrial technology, visual arts, performing arts, business, and culinary. Morrow County School District has created partnerships that have tripled their financial investment in preparing students to be at school every day ready to learn. Strong partnerships between advocacy groups and the school districts in the three counties was also a highlight. The Umatilla Hispanic Advocacy Committee has developed deep partnerships with the region’s school systems. The partnership and agreements between the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Pendleton School District serves as a model for Oregon. One highlight of the model partnership is that the tribe offers Native language instruction in the schools, this program enriches the experience of both American Indian students and non-American Indian students.

All of the programs were ambitious, creative, and motivational. However, one student-led program at Umatilla School District stood out as truly inspirational. Please take five minutes to check-out this student project focused on changing a culture to empower girls to become involved in robotics and engineering: www.facesofengineering.com.

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