The need to diversify the teaching workforce is well-documented and in the Willamette Valley, the need for a bilingual teaching force is critical. Chemeketa Community College responded to this need by creating the Bilingual Student Teacher Leader program in 2015. The Chemeketa program features five key elements:
*Bilingual Faculty and staff that inherently honor linguistic diversity
*Creation of a clear transfer pathway
*Academic supports that keep students on track and give them avenues for help
*Ethic of caring
These inter-related strategies support all students, and specifically, encourage diverse student population. The Chemeketa program reports not only successful graduation rates, but continued success following university transfer. As the program matures, an increase in the number of bilingual/bicultural teachers will be seen in local schools.
Chemeketa hosted a roundtable discussion at the Salem Campus with Jessica Bowen and Shirley Araiza, legislative aides for Rep. Suzanne Bonamici. A number of students spoke at the round table and described the importance of increasing bilingual and bicultural teachers in our local schools and how critical it is to have ongoing support from our elected representatives.