CWU News

CWU summit focused on ways to improve teacher education

The central region of Washington is experiencing one of the state’s most profound acute teacher shortages. It is even more pronounced in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

Central Washington University hosted a summit on Friday (July 8), involving more than 50 educational leaders from numerous school districts across the region, to discuss ideas about what’s now being done well, and what changes are needed to craft the ideal STEM teacher preparation program to meet current and emerging trends.

“We had so many different groups represented and all talking about what best teaching is,” said Jeff Charbonneau, from the Zillah School District, the 2013 National Teacher of the Year and Central alumnus. He was among those in attendance at the summit.

C-W-U biology and science education professor Jennifer Dechaine-Berkas organized the summit, pointed out that some teaching skills transcend generations, such as good communication skills and the ability to connect with students.

“But some things are changing,” she added. “It takes critical thinking skills. It takes technology skills. Those skills will become more and more important in the future and we want to make sure that our teachers are proficient in those areas.”

The university will seek legislative funding next year to increase the quality and quantity of the teachers produced to address the well-documented, critical teacher shortage in Washington. 

“Central is a phenomenal teaching institution already,” Charbonneau said, noting that the school is annually among the top-10 nationally in the number of teachers it graduates. “This was about further improving on that model and creating the vision for Central to make sure we are producing the best teachers there are.”

Dechaine-Berkas continued, “Central and the K-12 community have passion for training excellent teachers. We have already trained many excellent teachers here at CWU. We want to make sure our programs will meet the standards and demands that will be required in the next decade.”

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, 509-963-1487,

July 11, 2016

Photo: Dechaine-Berkas addressing the summit