Phoenix University honors Oak Heights’ mentor Jerika Spencer

In a surprise visit to this week’s faculty meeting at Oak Heights Elementary School, fourth-grade teacher Jerika Spencer was honored as the 2009 Cooperating Teacher of the Year by the University of Phoenix Oregon Campus.

Each year, the Oregon Campus honors two teachers who have been especially helpful to the student teacher they mentor. In recognition of Spencer’s outstanding mentorship, the Oregon Campus donated $500 to Oak Heights.

Rob Hamm, chairman of the Oregon Campus education program, and staff member Ben Gardiner presented the check to Spencer and principal Derek Barnhurst at the faculty meeting on April 15.

“Her lessons were invaluable, and she taught me a great deal about the type of teacher I want to be,” said Phoenix student Deborah Borthwick Park in an essay describing her mentor. “She enforced rules and consequences without being strict or raising her voice. She showed genuine concern for her students and everyone around her.”

“Based on Deborah’s exceptionally written essay, the department felt the true impact of Jerika’s mentorship and believed in her dedication,” Hamm said.

The university began a teacher training program in 2005. Since then 14 cohorts of students have gone through the program or are taking classes. Student teachers are required to complete a minimum of 15 weeks of full-time teaching in real classrooms under the guidance of experienced mentor teachers.