Nicholas Sowa is a fifth grade teacher at St. Mary’s Public School within the Mount Angel School District. He is the project manager for the Mount Angel School District CLASS Project grant and has been a teacher in the district for the past 6 years. He is currently enrolled at George Fox University in pursuit of administrative credentials. He also obtained his BS degree from Eastern Oregon University and MA in teaching degree from George Fox University. Nicholas plans to continue to offer his knowledge of teaching to students who speak English as a second language and ultimately obtain an administrative position in an elementary setting. Nicholas is supported by his wife of 12 years and three young children. He has a passion for creative instruction, empowering his students, and implementing technology in his classroom.
Through our work with the CLASS Project here in Mt. Angel we have had some interesting discussions focused on career pathways. In particular, our discussion continually touches on the fact that there is no “new money” within the foreseeable future. The task we are then charged with is how can we create creative career pathways for educators without adding to our already tight budget? Furthermore, how can we ask teachers to continually do more with less?
Even though we are still in the design phase of our plan, our ideas are already spawning changes throughout the district. We have started examining our own constraints to change, such as middle school and high school scheduling or teacher flex-time in order to accommodate future change. Most of our ideas have been in the form of leadership opportunities within the school. Whether discussions include ideas around model classrooms, initiative leaders, or peer trainers, we have begun to think about leadership and thus career pathways differently.
This conversation has also carried over to ideas of evaluation and our need/want for peer feedback and individually focused professional development. I think our greatest asset is our current district leadership. Throughout this process our superintendent has been very supportive and understanding of our needs as educators. His philosophy is that we will be the “best small school district in the state of Oregon” and to accomplish this there must be belief, not mandates. Our discussions have led me to believe that empowerment and valuing the individual go a long way when funding is tight. This is a very exciting process, especially when you know that the district does not have a hidden agenda and there is an open and honest dialogue about the current state and needs of the district.