Corban makes a difference in Salem schools

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Corban’s partnership with the Salem-Keizer School District couldn’t have come at a better time.

Salem-Keizer Schools have a 16% ELL (English Language Learners) population--and it’s growing. The school district’s vision, as stated in their strategic plan, is to ensure that those students acquire English proficiency. Preparing teachers with language instruction strategies is a major piece of that vision.

Enter Corban College’s ESOL Endorsement Program, where Corban cohorts are taught weekly to teachers by adjunct education faculty member, Scott Jantzi. He works full-time as Secondary Program Assistant throughout the S-K District, but from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, he takes the Corban classroom into Salem schools. Begun early in January, the cohorts are now in full swing with 45 students, and there’s already a waiting list for the next cohorts which begin in spring 2009.

“It’s like the perfect storm,” said Corban’s Dean of Education, Matt Lucas. “There’s a huge demand with ELLs, and a low supply of teachers with ESOL endorsements. Creating a partnership to get teachers endorsed is where we fit in.”

An ESOL endorsement means that a teacher has taken the required graduate courses in linguistics, cultural issues, and content area instruction and assessment; completed a practicum; and passed a PRAXIS test. All of this prepares the teacher to work with students who are at varying levels of learning English.

The partnership with Corban provides each Salem-Keizer School District employee who completes the ESOL program with 13 graduate semester credits.

“There’s a push from both federal and state levels for teachers to get the endorsement,” Lucas noted. “With the No Child Left Behind act requiring teachers to be ‘highly qualified’ as well as requirements from the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, school districts are having a difficult time finding teachers who have the ESOL endorsement.”

“We’re happy that Corban approached us with the idea of a partnership in ESOL last summer,” said David Bautista, S-K District’s Director of Second Language Learning. The ESOL Endorsement Program contract was signed at a District cabinet meeting in December, and Bautista included it as one of the highlights of the ELL program for Salem-Keizer schools at the January District Board meeting.

Kyle Koontz, ’07, teaches social studies at Houck Middle School and had been in the process of getting the endorsement over a period of time. Now in a Corban cohort, he described the program as “fantastic.” Allison Harris, ’06, first grade teacher at Auburn Elementary and also a cohort student, was halfway through another endorsement program when she switched to Corban’s.

“Yes, I am starting over, but it’s worth it to me,” Harris said. “I’m already getting more out of this class than the other ones.”

“I really love teaching these classes,” Jantzi said. “To me, it combines the best of both worlds. I can have my finger on the pulse of the Salem-Keizer District while I go into the schools and work with students. But I’m still supporting Corban as I teach the cohorts.”

“It’s great having Scott where he is,” Lucas pointed out. “During the short time we had him as a full-time faculty member last fall, he had a huge impact. He provided lots of advice and wisdom to our education department.

“The partnership is good for Corban financially. It’s good for Salem-Keizer schools because they’re getting more qualified teachers. It’s good for teachers because the graduate credits and endorsement lead to pay raises for them; it’s good for the State because they’re meeting federal requirements. Everyone’s a winner!”

“We see the ESOL program as providing a service to the community,” said Linda Samek, Provost.

Lucas emphasized that the program provides professional development to teachers, not a degree.

“The hard questions will come when potential students, who aren’t Christians, come to us as a result of the ESOL classes,” Samek pointed out. “We remain committed to our mission to educate Christians who will make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ. They will need to understand that in order to be accepted at Corban, students must be professing Christians, involved in a church.”

Samek continued, “The partnership with Salem-Keizer schools is part of a bigger vision—that  we can be a light for Jesus Christ, serving needs and making a difference right here in our community.”

  • Scott Jantzi, adjunct professor of education at Corban and secondary program assistant for Salem-Keizer Schools, teaches linguistics to teachers at Claggett Creek Middle School during a class session of the ESOL Endorsement Program. Teachers in this cohort and another one held at McKay High School have committed to taking four classes through spring 2009 in order to receive graduate credits toward their ESOL endorsement through Corban.

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