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Column: Full Circle, A Pathway from Student to Teacher

The P-TEACH program is one of many career pathways that students have an opportunity to explore and pursue.

Longmont Leader received the following column from SVVSD about the PTEACH program:

Many of us have fond memories of our elementary school experiences. The teacher greeting us at the door with a warm smile, sitting down on the classroom carpet and listening to the way our teacher’s voice changes for every character in the book, the excitement of finding out you will be using the giant parachute in PE, and the feeling of pride and accomplishment when you finish singing the songs for the school choir performance. The connection we make with others through these shared experiences helps to sew the fabric of our lives far beyond the years of our schooling. The nostalgia of those moments is like a warm quilt that can wrap us up and bring comfort merely at the thought.

Deejha Blash-Lopez enjoyed similar experiences with her classmates and teachers at Mountain View Elementary. Deejha reflects on her time there as a second grader in Ms. Horowitz’s class, “I remember writing postcards to Mrs. Horowitz’s son as he traveled overseas. She was able to create an engaging lesson that students will remember while still meeting the [literacy] standard. I want to create lessons that way as well.”

Memories like these and teachers like Ms. Horowitz are what inspired Deejha to explore a career in teaching. In addition to finding inspiration through her own experiences and the great teachers in her life, she was also given a unique opportunity when she was in high school by signing up for the Pathways to Teaching (P-TEACH) program. P-TEACH is a program that introduces St.Vrain high school students and classified staff to a career as an educator by offering a variety of concurrent enrollment courses. Students can earn credit through the University of Colorado Denver, as well as participate in a variety of experiences that give students an opportunity to see if teaching is something they want to pursue as a career. So that’s what Deejha did. Not only did she take advantage of the free college credit, she continued down the pathway and earned her bachelor’s degree in education with a teaching license.

The P-TEACH program is one of many career pathways that students have an opportunity to explore and pursue. Partnerships with universities, college credit, real work experience, and connections all play a part in giving students a competitive advantage when they graduate high school. Colorado has recognized the importance of giving students these options. St. Vrain Valley Schools was awarded $7 million through Colorado’s highly-competitive Opportunity Now grant to partner with neighboring school districts to build on these career pathways. St. Vrain has not only seen success with P-TEACH, but is leading the way as they share the program with Weld Re-3J, Estes Park Schools, and Adams 12 Five Star Schools. 

St. Vrain prides itself on having the best teaching staff. It only seems fitting that the pursuit to have students explore one of the most important professions in the world would start in our classrooms. The very teachers that inspire our students to become health care workers, engineers, fire fighters, police officers, and community leaders are not surprisingly igniting a passion for the career that impacts all other careers: teaching. 

Through the P-TEACH program high schoolers getting a head start, and paraprofessionals that are working in our classrooms are also getting a chance to earn their degree. An integral role to student success, paraprofessionals help support teachers and students in a multitude of ways, including small group instruction. The P-TEACH program targeted this role as prime candidates for the program and offered classes in the evening to accommodate their school day work schedule. They have been in classrooms and received first-hand experience with students before becoming leaders in their own classrooms. 

Deejha Blash-Lopez was one of the very first St. Vrain graduates to complete the P-TEACH program. Life came full circle for Deejha as she completed her student teaching in May 2023 at the very school she once attended, Mountain View Elementary. She worked diligently through that semester, showing the school she was ready to take on the challenge, and when an opening in kindergarten was available in the spring, Deejha put her best foot forward and interviewed for the position. There was no doubt some nervousness, as Deejha knew that this school community was the one she wanted to serve. When the news came that she was offered the teaching job, Deejha was ecstatic. 

The halls feel a little smaller these days for Deejha, but she is creating some of the very same memories she once had. She sews patches of colorful and meaningful memories, adding comfort to her students’ lives. Her kindergarteners know her as Miss Blash-Lopez, and she is changing the world every single day at Mountain View Elementary. As one of her students, Josie Ferreyra Moreno stated, “Ms. Blash-Lopez makes me feel happy.” Deejha knows that her students may not remember all the lessons she teaches every day, but one thing she is certain of, one day, when her students think back on their time in her class, they will remember that they were cared for and loved.

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