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HRVHS Education Pathways offers students opportunity to learn about education and human services field

A career pathway is a career-themed program available at a high school. At Hood River Valley High School (HRVHS), Education Pathways classes are offered to students who are interested in working with children and families in their futures and/or students who have a desire to learn about human development and psychology. Students’ interest may be specific to education or any human services field.

Students in grade 10 can start by taking Child Development and Psychology, a two trimester-long class that is the foundation to the other classes. Classes offered to students in grades 11-12 are Introduction to Education or Introduction to Early Childhood EducationEducation Internship (teachers make a difference) or Early Childhood Education Internship (exploring the ECE field) and General Psychology.

These courses are offered for Dual Credit through Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC); however, students do not have to take them for college credit.

Hood River County School District (HRCSD) developed a partnership with CGCC and Oregon State University (OSU) to create a "Stay local in the Gorge - Grow your own workforce'' opportunity for students. This opportunity provides students a way to earn their bachelor's degree in elementary education through OSU that flows from HRVHS to CGCC to OSU.

 The Child Development class covers the basic questions of what makes us who we are. Genetics, environment, prenatal development, physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development from infancy through late adolescence are some of the major topics of the class. The pace is fairly relaxed in this class because it spans two trimesters. Given the pace, this class is encouraged for a student who has an interest in a first college course.

 In Psychology, the class covers all the content of a general psychology course at the same pace of a college class, but there is class time to make the learning process manageable. Students explore topics such as human states of consciousness, perception and learning, biopsychology, intelligence, and cognition. The pace of this class is brisk.

The Education and Early Childhood Education Internships give students the chance to work in classrooms or preschool and childcare settings and apply their learning under supervision of a teacher mentor. HRVHS students are able to intern in local preschools and K-12 classrooms. Introduction to Education is a more advanced class for students who believe they want to work in the K-12 school system and Introduction to Early Childhood Education is for students who want to work with very young children or their families, ages infant to preschool.

Education Pathways classes are offered at HRVHS and internships are in local preschools and K-12 schools. COVID-19 has made internships a challenge, but HRVHS and its community partners continue to offer students in-person internship opportunities.

 The classes are scheduled during the regular school day. Students’ first internships are held during the first period of the school day. Advanced internships are scheduled during any period.

Education Pathways classes are important because they focus on the investment in the development of human beings, said Mrs. Rebecca Swartzentruber, Education Pathways dual credit instructor at HRVHS.

“COVID-19 has shed light on the value of human connection and the importance of mental health in society,” said Mrs. Swartzentruber. “In the United States, there is a shortage of qualified early childhood educators, caregivers, and social service providers.”

Columbia Gorge News wrote an article about the childcare desert in the Columbia Gorge area. Furthermore, there is a shortage of diverse teachers. Across the United States, 80 percent of all teachers are white women. Approximately 63 percent of HRCSD's employees identify as this group. HRCSD’s strategic goal for the next five years is to develop a highly qualified, diverse, and culturally proficient workforce. Fulfilling this goal will lead to student success as students and staff of all different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds may reach the entire student body.

Oregon has a number of funding sources and grants that infuse Career and Technical Education (CTE). In 2016, voters passed Measure 98 (or "High School Success") and one tier of that plan is Career and College Readiness. HRVHS has put a lot of energy into developing courses and opportunities for students to explore careers and interests beyond the traditional classroom. There are state level funds such as Perkins Grants available for CTE classes and the education and human services pathway is a part of this collective effort.

“Being an educator is one of the most rewarding, meaningful careers a person can choose,” said Mrs. Swartzentruber. “It is challenging, but it is also a tremendous privilege to work with families and youth of all ages.”

She said there are endless opportunities in education and the field of education needs innovative, intelligent, and dedicated young people to help transform education and human services for society to thrive.

Mrs. Swartzentruber is the instructor who teaches the dual credit Education Pathways program classes. She worked in the mental health field in hospitals, treatment centers, and alternative schools for 12 years before becoming a teacher for HRCSD in 2000. Her undergraduate work was in psychology, and her graduate work was in Special Education. She is endorsed as a reading specialist, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher. Furthermore, Mrs. Swartzentruber is still a student!