No Excuses University

Monday, June 30, 2014

“I plan to go to college because I want to have a better future,” says Chamilie Aguilar Garfias.

“I want to go to college because I could make my dreams come true, and I want to have a job of being a dentist,” says Leslie Villatoro.

“My mom never had a chance to go to college, and I want to make her proud,” Daniella Lopez adds.

The third- and fourth-graders in Tristin Jarmer’s class at Reedville Elementary School have big dreams. And Jarmer, a 2012 graduate of Pacific University’s master of arts in teaching program, hopes to help those dreams come true.

Almost every student in her bilingual class says that their parents expect them to go to college — it’s not  an if, it’s a when.

“That’s probably their No. 1 goal for you,” Jarmer tells her students. “For you to have more opportunities than they did.”

Jarmer knows that was her own parents' dream. Her father went to college on a football scholarship but dropped out before graduating. She said he always expected his children to finish.

She earned a liberal arts degree from Portland State University (spending time abroad in Chile), then worked for the Washington County District Attorney’s Office as a victim advocate for five years before turning to Pacific, where she went to part-time classes in the evening for more than a year to earn a master’s degree in teaching.

“I loved Pacific,” she said.

“The professors were so real, so laid back, talking about real things that happen, not an idealized world.

“It was a very small cohort, which was excellent after PSU … and we had great student teaching placements.”

She was able to complete an international placement, again in Chile — what she calls her “go-to place” after four trips abroad — and also to earn an endorsement in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), which allows her to teach in the dual-language program at Reedville.

She credits Pacific, her master’s degree and her bilingual skills for having a teaching job right after graduation, first in the Salem-Kaiser School District and now at Reedville.

“Teaching is really hard. It’s way, way, way harder than I thought it would be. But the great thing about elementary kids is … even if you’re not your best, they think you’re the greatest thing. They love you.”