The pair met when Lowery was Clegg’s student teacher at Woodlawn. Both men participated in a program through Portland Community College and Portland State University called the Portland Teachers Program. The program recruits and places teachers of color in both Portland and Beaverton schools.
Clegg credits the program, known as PTP, for his success as an educator.
“As far as being the well-rounded teacher than I am and having that understanding of how to work with all children and also the respect to learn from them as well has been very vital,” Clegg said. “It's really because of PTP that I am the way that I am now.”
Lowery found PTP at a crossroads in his life. He was laid off after 12 years at Nike and was coaching basketball when another teacher told him to check out the program.
“They really gave my life purpose,” Lowery said. “It gave my life meaning. I never really knew what my life was meant to be, but now that I'm here as a teacher, it’s like, man, I don't see myself doing anything else.”
The Portland Teachers Program is now at a crossroads of its own. After graduating 230 teachers in the past three decades, the program now is in danger of ending.
While PSU recently put $500,000 toward the program, that will only pay for the current PTP students, including Woodlawn student teachers Unique Robinson and Emily Nguyen, to finish school.
The director of the program confirmed the program is no longer accepting new students while officials discuss how to move forward.
“I'm constantly just thinking about what the future can hold, whether that's new partnerships with other universities or whether that's funding from the state, whatever that is. But there's something needs to happen for us to continue to do the work that we are doing,” said Robinson.
“Knowing that a program like this might not continue, it worries me for the future of education. And not just in Portland, but I feel like this is something that needs to be modeled, like this program is something that needs to be replicated all over,” said Nguyen.