State Representative Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville) kicked off OSEA’s new legislative job shadow program by visiting OSEA Northwest Regional Education Service District (NWRESD) Chapter 101 to learn more about the diversity of classified employees who support special education.
The job shadow was hosted and developed by Chapter 101 members and led by Chapter President Maureen Crawford-Markasky, an educational assistant, and Vice President Ethan Akre, a support technician. It is part of OSEA’s ongoing efforts to spotlight a top legislative priority for our union: a support package for classified workers who support special education. Rep. Neron visited a NWRESD campus that is home to three special education academies for students in pre-K through 12th grade, called Columbia, Pacific and Cascade. The staff and leadership of all three academies work closely to provide the best available services for students who come from areas including Yamhill, Washington, Clatsop and Columbia counties. “The job shadow was possible because of the strong relationship between NWRESD and OSEA,” said Crawford-Markasky.
Rep. Neron toured the facility with Crawford-Markasky and Akre, along with Legislative Aide Sara Kim, OSEA President Sarah Wofford, Government Relations Specialists Susan Allen and Bob Estabrook, and NWRESD Chief of Staff Daniel Williams, Executive Director of K-12 Special Education Cathy Jenson and Principals Bethany Bowers, Cara Olson Sawyer and Sarah Walker.
Crawford-Markasky stated, “Our job is to take care of our students by taking care of the people that serve students. We are about building the future through relationships in the moment, with students, with colleagues, with management and with families. That puts us in a very important spot to help our students create a better future for themselves.”
The group visited classrooms to observe classified staff and the important work they do — both in classrooms with students and providing technological and logistical support behind the scenes. They also discussed the issues education workers are facing statewide, including retention and recruitment difficulties, challenging work environments, maximizing opportunities for growth and minimizing risk.
At the close of the job shadow, Rep. Neron said, “As a former high school teacher I know the vital role that classified workers play in providing a quality education to our students. The OSEA job shadow is an impactful experience for community leaders to gain understanding of how our dedicated education workforce is delivering in our Oregon schools. I truly appreciate having this opportunity to tour and ask questions in a specialty ESD program.”
Job shadows like this one help lawmakers understand the important work school employees do, the issues we face and the support we need. Many thanks to Rep. Neron, the NWRESD Cascade, Pacific, and Columbia teams, Crawford-Markasky, Akre and the members of Chapter 101 for making this event possible!