WEA partners with WWU to build a more inclusive teacher workforce

A new partnership with the Washington Education Association will provide scholarships to WWU teachers in training—and help diversify the state’s pipeline of educators.

The WEA, the state’s largest teacher’s union, has pledged $1.5 million in scholarships for WWU teacher education students in the midst of student-teaching. Up to 50 WWU students are expected to receive funding this academic year.

The funds are meant to address a key problem: The state’s teaching force does not reflect the diversity of the state’s population. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, people of color made up about half of Washington’s students in 2021-22, but only about 14 percent of the state’s teachers.

But students are more successful when they see themselves reflected in the front of the classroom, with improvements in grades, test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment.

The WEA hopes easing the financial barrier to becoming a teacher will encourage a more diverse group of students to choose the classroom for their careers.

a teacher sits at a short table surrounded by children and smiles at a student.

The Washington Education Association is partnering with WWU's Woodring College of Education to fund scholarships for fifth-year students completing their teacher training. (iStock photo)

"A plan to train, retain a more diverse teacher workforce"

WWU President Sabah Randhawa and WEA President Larry Delaney wrote about the new partnership in the Seattle Times

We will measure our success by:

First-year Retention Rate
Inclusive Success 2020-21 2021-22 Target 2024-25
Overall 78.8% 80.4% 87-90%
Students of Color 77.1% 77.8% 87-90%
Pell Grant Eligible 73.6% 74.4% 87-90%


Six-year Graduation Rate
Inclusive Success 2020-21 2021-22 Target 2024-25
Overall 67.4% 65.1% 75-80%
Students of Color 63.3% 61.0% 75-80%
Pell Grant Eligible 59.5% 54.8% 75-80%


Transfer Four-year Graduation Rate
Inclusive Success 2020-21 2021-22 Target 2024-25
Overall 73.7% 72.5% 75-80%
Students of Color 70.6% 73.6% 75-80%
Pell Grant Eligible 72.3% 69.1% 75-80%


Creating more opportunities in the sciences

Working in labs alongside Associate Professor Jeanine Amacher and Vice Provost David Patrick allowed Hanna Kodama to conduct her own research and shape her own career plans in the sciences.

But not all students have the privilege of spending long hours in the lab, so Kodama helped launch the Molecular Bioscience student club to provide students with more robust academic and professional opportunities.

“I wouldn’t want the lessons I have learned along the way to be gatekept to (only include) people participating in undergraduate research,” she says.

Hanna Kodama

Hanna Kodama

WWU joins an NSF-funded effort to connect Indigenous and 'Western' sciences

WWU researchers will be partners in the newly announced NSF Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science, a five-year, $30 million international NSF Science and Technology center based at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The center will focus on connecting Indigenous knowledges with mainstream "Western" sciences to address complex, evolving challenges from climate change, changing food systems, and dangers to irreplaceable archeological sites.

WWU Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Pew Marine Fellow Marco Hatch will serve as co-lead for the Pacific Northwest Hub and lead a place-based study on clam gardens in the Salish Sea.

Marco Hatch stands on the rocky tidepools on the shoreline

Marco Hatch

architectural rendering of the House of Healing

House of Healing

Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2024 on Western’s House of Healing, a Coast Salish style longhouse that will provide space for educational, community and cultural functions and will serve as a gathering and ceremonial space for Native students and Coast Salish tribal nations.

Western is working on the House of Healing in partnership and close collaboration with Coast Salish tribal nations, the city of Bellingham and the Native American Student Union.


Laural Ballew

Learn more about the House of Healing

Hear Tribal Liaison Laural Ballew talk about the significance of Coast Salish style longhouses, and about the plans to build one at Western. 

More from Window Magazine

The Minds of Title IX: Hear from a few faculty at Western who are forging ahead in academic fields previously (or still) dominated by men.

Showplace for All: WWU music alums create inclusive all-ages venue downtown.

From WWU News: 

The Washington State Council of Presidents on Building an Inclusive Future