A $10,000 scholarship opens at PSU to prepare American Indian/Alaska Native school principals

Portland State University’s First Nations Administrator and Knowledge Keepers (FNAKK) Principal License Preparation program is designed to prepare American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) school principals or education administrators for K-12 and tribal nations’ schools.  

The five-term program from spring to spring at PSU is a cohort model with AI/AN scholars to build a strong lifetime network of support. Mentoring from Native educators/administrators and graduates of PSU’s FNAKK program are an important aspect of this culturally relevant pedagogy. Interns in the Principal Licensure program complete 40 hours of coursework and a 360-hour practicum.

The $10,000 scholarships are awarded for the first year to cover tuition, fees, and books with potential for second year funding. In addition, the registration fee to attend the annual conference of the Oregon Indian Education Association is paid, as well as dues for one year of membership in the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). This also includes a subscription to the Tribal College Journal and reduced registration fees for the NIEA annual fall conference.

The Oregon Administrator Scholars Program is an initiative of the state’s Educator Advancement Council, aimed at helping Oregon achieve high-quality, well-supported and culturally-responsive educators for all classrooms. Co-Principal Investigators of the new grant at PSU are Dr. Maria Tenorio (Project Director) and Dr. Micki Caskey, Professor Emerita. This program meets the highest standards for principal licensure required by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC), now obligatory for all school administrators in Oregon.

“This significant source of funding for Native teachers enrolled in the principal license program is made possible through a recently established relationship with Kirsten Plumeau at TSPC to increase the numbers of diverse administrators in Oregon,” states Dr. Moti Hara, chair of the Educational Leadership and Policy department at PSU. “It represents our emphasis on developing strong community partnerships with our programs because of the substantial benefit to our students and the university as a whole.”

The FNAAK program has a special application and admissions process. Those who are interested in scheduling an advising session to learn more about the Principal Licensure Program and the new scholarship, please contact Dr. Tenorio (tenorio@pdx.edu), Dr. Caskey (caskeym@pdx.edu), or make an appointment with Admission Advisor Stefanie Randol at Portland State University’s College of Education: askcoe@pdx.edu.


By Sherron Lumley

Portland State University to receive $21M to invest in child care providers

The 81st Oregon Legislative Assembly enacted House Bill 5202 that included a General Fund appropriation of $21 million to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) for Portland State University’s Oregon Center for Career Development in Child Care (OCCD). Of the $21 million, $18.3 million is available to make grants to providers, and $2.7 million pays for administration and program operating costs. 

“Recognizing the challenges faced by the workforce shortage in child care professionals and educators, this funding opportunity to OCCD is instrumental and will have a positive impact on our community,” says Dr. Jose Coll, Interim Dean of the College of Education at PSU. 

“OCCD is thrilled to be able to offer the Child Care Workforce Recruitment and Retention Bonus Program payments to eligible child care providers currently providing care to children and families in Oregon,” says OCCD Director Sarah Myers. “We anticipate reaching approximately 18,000 individuals by issuing $500 payments in 2023 and 2024,” she notes.

Sarah Myers, Director of the Oregon Center for Career Development in Child Care at Portland State

Investing in child care providers is essential to retain and grow this workforce, combat labor shortages in the field, and promote professional development to achieve high quality care and education for children.

“OCCD is proud to launch this program and thankful for the advocacy efforts of Seeding Justice and Family Forward to secure the investment,” says Myers.

The program will launch in early 2023. More information about eligibility and how to apply to receive the payment will be posted to the OCCD website and on the Oregon Registry Online (ORO) when available. Slava Bakhanovich is OCCD’s Scholarship and Incentives Coordinator, who will be overseeing the ongoing work of the Child Care Workforce Recruitment and Retention Bonus Program.


By Sherron Lumley

Rep. Tawna Sanchez, PSU alumna and advocate for Oregon’s most vulnerable, sees important role for educators

Representative Tawna Sanchez, Portland State University alumna

Portland State University alumna and Oregon House of Representatives member Tawna Sanchez (Democrat, 43rd District, N. and NE Portland) earned a Master’s in Social Work in a program designed for working professionals. The long-time Director of Family Services for the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) is a political advocate for children, families, elder support, Indigenous People, and women. In 2016, she became the first Native American to represent Portland in the Oregon Legislature, and only the second in history in the Oregon Legislature.

Now in her sixth year in public office, Rep. Sanchez has a strong list of priorities for the upcoming session. She is aware of the challenges ahead, and is prepared to meet pressing public crises. Homelessness, housing, mental health, and addiction are top of mind, as well as the environment. She asks, what could we have done better or differently, long ago? The need is obvious, but nothing can be assumed. She notes even simple things, like recycling, a Portland way of life, is not held to be a given in the state’s legislative assembly. 

“Environmental infrastructure is important. We want to recycle. We don’t want a negative environmental impact,” says Rep. Sanchez. “PSU is a good example of how important this is to the people of Portland. There are opportunities to recycle, reuse, and reduce all over campus.”

She is equally candid about the mental health crisis in Oregon, and how to fund solutions. “I’m not afraid to say it out loud,” she says. “Without a sales tax, and with the Oregon kicker checks costing the state billions of dollars annually, it’s absolutely necessary that we face the reality that we live in a state where beer and wine have not had taxes increased in 40 years.”

There is also the possibility to introduce a telecom tax for the new 988 mental health crisis number that was just approved federally. She sees it as a life-saving measure for all Oregonians to have access on their mobile phones just as they do 911. And then there is the Corporate Activities Tax (CAT), which she says, all added together, amounts to nowhere near the level of investment needed.

“We have to be able to respond more deeply,” she says, in reference to behavioral health. “When police respond, that is not what they are trained for. Measure 110 is a good start and fundamentally changes how we approach drugs and addiction, but it doesn’t give law enforcement the tools they need to have a trauma-informed response. We as a state must continue to prioritize sustained investments in behavioral health, mental health, street response, and addiction if we want to see a difference.”

“Republicans don’t like taxes, and any proposed measure for a new tax in the legislature, by law, requires a three-fifths vote,” she explains. “I have to convince my colleagues, and we still have to pass that.”

However daunting, that won’t stop her from trying. Her victories are stacking up nicely, including legislative policy and investments focused on protecting communities from climate change, equity and justice for all, access to healthcare and healthy communities, economic recovery, workforce development, education and childcare.

Thinking back to her college days, she recalls the struggle to pay for tuition while earning her undergraduate degree (BA in Psychology and Communications, Marylhurst University), for which she refinanced her home. At PSU, she received a scholarship from the School of Social Work, which inspired her later, as an elected official, to champion programs for adult learners in the workforce. At a 2021 conference, she learned that PSU and community colleges could provide credit for prior learning with more resources. She went to work on making these programs a reality.

She sees an important role for educators in creating a healthy future for Oregon. Now in her 25th year as NAYA director, she reflects on NAYA’s Many Nations Academy, which provides a culturally relevant, student-centered learning environment combining a high school and college and career-readiness curriculum. “It matters that the kids see themselves in the world and in education to succeed, invested in who they are,” she says. “That’s so important.”

Dr. Maria Tenorio, Educational Policy and Leadership faculty at Portland State University recalled early work with sisters Tawna and Johnelle, and others taking Native youth to basketball practice and to drum at a church in southeast Portland. Many in the community supported the next steps of forming a non-profit and Tenorio later helped NAYA develop its Many Nations Academy. “Tawna,” she states, “was active in so many critical issues for Native communities and many don’t realize the root of Tawna’s strength is her spirituality in all she does. It is one of the reasons she is such an effective role model and foster mother.”


By Sherron Lumley

Eight Great Things About Being a Teacher!

Alumni of Portland State’s College of Education share what they love about teaching

Happy holidays to all of Portland State’s many College of Education alumni educators and students enjoying a nice Winter Break before the new year begins! Throughout 2022 we interviewed students and alumni to discover what they love most about their field, and here’s what they said.

Eight great things about being a teacher!
1. The Aha Moment
2. Making a difference
3. Work-life balance
4. Career flexibility
5. A lifelong calling
6. Professional salary
7. Community spirit
8. Changing the world for the better.

portland state university college of education alumni, 2022

The Big One: The Aha Moment

Teaching a student something new for the first time never gets old!

Rosa Floyd, the 2023 Oregon Teacher of the Year, is an alumna of the Bilingual Teacher Pathway program at Portland State. She describes the most rewarding part of her work as when the children in her dual language kindergarten classroom discover they can read or write or use the new language to communicate with others. “They acquire the language very quickly at this young age. This is their first experience, so you open a lot of channels for the future. It is an honor to work with these students and families, and it is a big responsibility, transforming lives. When they learn a second language, they learn to see the world in a different way,” she says.

2. Making a difference

Whether it’s special ed, or special circumstances, educators love to see students overcome obstacles to thrive and grow.

Kamala Arumugam earned a Master’s in Special Education in 2021 and now works for the Beaverton School District. “Special Education is a highly satisfying career that makes a positive impact on the lives of children with learning disabilities,” she says. 

Susan McLawhorn is in her 19th year of teaching and is currently earning a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at PSU. For the past seven years she has been a teacher in the Teen Parent Services Program of Portland Public Schools. “The best part about teaching is getting to see students – who society might have counted out — graduate high school, go to college, and be successful and happy and full of self-worth. It is unbelievably rewarding,” she says.

3. Work-life balance

A regular schedule and summer, winter and spring breaks are great for spending time with family, travel, and professional development.

Alumnus Juan Romero-Corral is a middle school social studies teacher in a Spanish immersion program in Portland. He was in the Graduate Teacher Education Program at PSU, and Dual Language Teacher Residency Program for Portland Public Schools. “Being a teacher was a change for the better in my life,” he says, adding that he finds teaching is good for his family because the profession provides a stable schedule, benefits, and life balance. Like many educators, there is more than one thing he cherishes about his profession. “What I really like best is to see the students growing and how important school is for some families,” says the father of three, who sees the life-changing impact for students and families.

4. Career flexibility

From Early Childhood Education to elementary, secondary, and college, teachers are in demand everywhere and some transition from teaching to administration or policy.

Early Childhood Educator Renata Andrez lives in Switzerland with her family and attended the PSU College of Education from Europe. She now works at the International School of Basel. The Early Childhood Inclusive Education program is all online, and Andrez, who had originally studied journalism in Brazil, was thinking about the future. “When my children are grown, I imagine being a part of a non-governmental organization, hopefully back home in Brazil, working to support families who face so many challenges to access good quality education for their children. One of the fascinating aspects of being an educator is that you might have many different ways to fulfill your aspirations,” she says.

5. A career to be proud of 

Education is a calling, and an honorable profession, one to devote one’s life to doing.

In Estacada, alumnus Ryan Carpenter, 35, is one of Oregon’s youngest Superintendents, and while completing his doctorate at PSU, was named one of the top Superintendents to watch nationally in 2021. As the son of an Oregon high school English teacher and coach, Carpenter says he knew from the 6th grade that he wanted to be a teacher and coach as well. In 2005 he was teaching social studies in John Day, Oregon, and coaching baseball. After teaching social studies for three years, he became a vice principal for two years, then a principal for two years, and then the superintendent of the school district. This year, he completed the doctoral program in Educational Leadership at Portland State University. “Really, it has been an honor,” he says. 

6. Community spirit 

Coaching, clubs and activities are important to educators who are excited about the world around them and the people in it.  

“Space Science and teaching are my passion,” says Jim Todd, OMSI’s star educator for 38 years, and presently its Space Science Education Director. “Every day, every week something is happening,” he says. After museum hours, he leads public star parties (check out the Rose City Astronomers, which has outreach and youth programs). “It’s a bright spot that brings people and family together to enjoy the view of the night sky, a beauty to escape to. Becoming an educator allows me to share this passion with the public and the media,” says Todd, whose advice to new teachers is as clear as a beautiful night sky: “Work with your passion, show your passion to your students, and it will carry you a long, long ways,” says Todd.

7. Professional compensation 

Educators earn professional-level pay with benefits that provide a comfortable living for buying a home, raising a family, and achieving life goals.

Kathleen Mahurin, a Special Education teacher in Bellingham, Wash. was the College of Education’s graduate student speaker in June 2022. Both of her daughters started college this year, one in Washington and one in Montana. She is happy to be a mother of two new college students. “I want to help my daughters, and getting my master’s degree means working at a wage that reflects my earning potential,” says the proud mom and teacher. 

8. Building a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion to change the world.

Teachers are the change agents in society, and leading an inclusive classroom is an important way to make the world a better place right now and in the future. PSU alumni are passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom.

Ezra Whitman is an alumnus of PSU’s American Indian Teacher Program and is now in the First Nations Administrator and Knowledge Keepers program. He is a teacher in Portland at Roosevelt High School.

“I am so happy I am in a position to be with people who are making success happen, increasing attendance, and developing curriculum that is more engaging and reflects the community. This is empowering youth through language and literacy, making our communities vibrant so that we uplift them rather than escape them. It’s learnable, it is taking place, and people are doing it,” says Whitman.

Kamala Arumugam shared it this way: “Cultural representations matter in school and benefit all learners, both academically and socially. She added, “I imagine an educational setting that would reflect the real world of diverse abilities, experience,  languages, and cultures. An inclusive classroom is one where students grow to be more compassionate and responsive, and become caring citizens.”

Thank you to all of the dedicated teachers, educators, school counselors and administrators in the College of Education community, who make the world a better place every day.


By Sherron Lumley

Student spotlight:  Mayra Gonzalez, Special Education, will lead braille events for children, families, and educators at Hillsboro’s Brookwood Library in January

Mayra Gonzalez and Frances, Brookwood Library Inclusive Storytime, 2022.

Mayra Gonzalez works with children ages three to five during an inclusive storytime designed for children with and without disabilities, led by Dr. Melissa Pebly at Hillsboro Public Library, Brookwood. In January, Braille Literacy Month is coming to the library with several events organized. She has ordered books and art projects in braille to share. 

“I want to reach out to the families who are not aware – maybe because of a language barrier, so they know there are bilingual people here. I hope this is the beginning of something wonderful,” says Gonzalez. [Readers interested in Spanish braille may find more information from Paths to Literacy: https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/spanish-braille-and-english-language-learners/ ]

In addition to the inclusive storytime at Brookwood, she is working with the Bilingual Early Literacy Specialist at Shute Park to make sure bilingual storytime is more inclusive of children with disabilities. She is also supporting work on an inclusive Oregon Battle of the Books group at the Beaverton Public Library, enabling children who may not have participated in this statewide event before.

As a graduate student in Portland State University’s Visually Impaired Learner (VIL) and Orientation and Mobility programs, she is training to become a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI). “My experience in the program has been great,” she says. “My son is 11 and he is legally blind. As a mom, I wanted to learn everything I could to help.” Portland State offers the only program for TSVI training in the Pacific Northwest, serving Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Hawaii, Montana and Idaho.

Since October, she has been working with Project LIBROS, a grant directed by PSU’s Dr. Amy Parker with co-Principal Investigator Dr. Holly Lawson. The grant is focused on providing accessible literacy opportunities for children with low-incidence disabilities, including those with sensory and extensive support needs. LIBROS is a personnel preparation grant from the federal Office of Special Education to recruit, fund, advise, and mentor diverse scholars, expanding inclusive literacy at local libraries. [LIBROS stands for Low-Incidence Interdisciplinary Scholars Building Reading Opportunities for Social-Emotional Resiliency.]

January is Braille Literacy Month / Enero es el Mes de la Alfabetización Braille 

Braille Literacy Month Events in January at Brookwood Library:

2850 NE Brookwood Parkway, Hillsboro, Oregon, 97124 (Tel. 503.615-6500)

Thursday, January 12, 2023:  The Inclusive Storytime Team is hosting an event to create adapted books for learners with sensory, motor and/or language support needs from 4 to 6 p.m.

Fridays, Jan. 13 and 27, 2023:  An Inclusive Storytime is held every 2nd and 4th Friday at the Brookwood Library at 10:15 a.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.:  Families of children with disabilities ages 0 to 3 are invited to an event with adapted books to take home. Teachers are invited to a model adaptive storytime that Gonzalez is helping to organize in partnership with the Early Intervention Program at PSU and the Hillsboro Early Childhood Center.

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023:  A special family event will share braille history and crafts from 1 to 3 p.m.

“Braille is a code, not a language,” explains Gonzalez, “for many they may only have access to literacy through braille.”


By Sherron Lumley

Mobility Matters 2023 is coming: Registration is now open!

All Virtual • Friday, March 10, 2023 • 8:30 AM- 3:30 PM (PST)

PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 27, 2022 – The 2023 Mobility Matters Summit is coming to Portland State University (PSU) on Friday, March 10, 2023. This all-virtual event is a once-a-year opportunity to learn about and support mobility and innovation in Portland and around the world. Experts in the field of orientation and mobility will speak on the topics of accessible adventures, recreation, learning, inclusive transportation, and more, with and for people with disabilities. 

Join us as we virtually explore accessible adventures in Hawaii, Alaska, and beyond! Educators, curators, parks and recreation planners, O&M specialists, and all those who are interested in accessible recreation are welcome to join the summit.

Grab your map and your sense of adventure for this year’s Mobility Matters! Tag along with friends who share their adventures at nature centers, arboretums, and parks.

Registration is now open! Click here to purchase tickets.

Mobility Matters Summit Ticket – Professional: $50. Urban planners, curators, librarians, educators (registering without students), and other professional individuals will register with this option.

Mobility Matters Summit Ticket – Educator or Parent (of registering students for the event): $30

Mobility Matters Summit Ticket – Individual Advocate: $15

Mobility Matters Summit Ticket – College Student: $15

Email omsummit@pdx.edu about group registration options or organizational sponsorships!

Join us as we explore ways to make natural spaces, parks, and community sites accessible. Materials and maps will be found closer to the event on our Resources page.


Please contact omsummit@pdx.edu with any questions or comments.

Students in the O&M program on Oahu pose for a photo, summer 2022.

More information about PSU’s Visually Impaired Learner program is available here: https://www.pdx.edu/education/vil

If you would like to learn more about PSU’s graduate certificate program for Orientation and Mobility (O&M) for children, youth, and adults, please visit the website: https://www.pdx.edu/education/om

Read about last’s year’s Mobility Matters Summit 2022.

The 2023 Mobility Matters Summit is sponsored in part by the College of Education at Portland State University.