Nothing is more important to Julie Rowell than removing barriers and expanding opportunities for students who are traditionally underrepresented in universities and professional careers. An ELL (English language learner) teacher at Oregon’s Gresham High School (GHS), Rowell provides case management for active and monitored English learners and teaches English Language Development (ELD) classes. She uses highly engaging instructional strategies that provide students with solid support while holding them to high standards. Students work with partners or in small groups, participate in Socratic seminars, and incorporate technology in Rowell’s classroom as they gain proficiency in English. Using sentence frames, word banks and a gradual release of responsibility, Rowell guides students with only two or three years in U.S. schools in high-level discussions about topics they care about: curfews, lying, immigration. English learners flourish under Rowell’s care, with the majority making more than one year of progress, even those with multiple learning hurdles. While students typically take seven or more years to exit ELL programs, Rowell’s students are often ready in less than three years.
Rowell serves as the district’s secondary TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment), addressing the professional learning needs of ELL teachers. She opens her classroom for observation, participates in coaching conversations, records her lessons on video for others to study and has championed Swivl, a video review and collaboration platform, as a tool for professional growth. Rowell has served on school, district and state committees, mentored student teachers and presented professional development on a wide range of topics. She is an adjunct instructor at Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education.
Rowell speaks Spanish fluently and uses her bilingual skills to engage families and get them involved in their children’s education. She touts the benefits of bilingualism and encourages students to pursue the Oregon State Seal of Biliteracy and study abroad. Rowell also teaches AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), offered as a dual-enrollment class with nearby Mt. Hood Community College. She loops for two years with AVID students; nearly all go on to college, many to four-year institutions with scholarships. Rowell also runs the Newcomer Program at GHS, helping families new to the school settle in and making sure they have the resources they need. When two girls whose family had fled the civil war in Rwanda arrived for ninth grade lacking literacy and numeracy, even in their native language, Rowell leaned in to ensure their success. She worked with them during every lunch break, after school and more, recruiting other teachers to do the same. The girls graduated in five years, went to college on scholarships, and have returned to GHS to talk to other recently arrived students about their experiences.
Rowell earned a bachelor’s in Spanish in 2002 from Western Oregon University and a master’s in bilingual education in 2005 from Portland State University.
KOIN-TV | CBS | Dec 10 , 2019 | Portland, OR
The Gresham Outlook | Dec 10 , 2019 | Gresham, OR
KPTV-TV | FOX | Dec 10 , 2019 | Beaverton, OR
The Oregonian | Dec 10 , 2019 | Portland, OR