Luis Navez Dircio
Learning Specialist, Caldera High School, Bend-La Pine School District
As a presenter at the 2022 Central Oregon Early Learning Conference at COCC — an annual, two-day professional development summit for regional educators — Luis Navez Dircio felt the significance of the moment. It was like going home.
About six years prior, Navez Dircio had been a young COCC Education student pursuing a path of becoming a teacher — a dream he'd held since high school — and the conference was a part of his learning experience. Now he was back as an invited presenter, sharing his knowledge with others.
“Every day, I am excited to see students and to work with them.”
"When I was in high school, I took my first college class through COCC," he recalls of his start. "Professor Cole, from the Early Childhood Education program, was teaching this course at Bend Senior High. And I knew that education was the career that I wanted.
"Not only is COCC affordable, it has great instructors as well," he adds. "They were so helpful." After completing his degree at COCC, he earned a bachelor's degree at Oregon State University-Cascades and a master's degree in special education from the University of Oregon. He became a learning specialist at Caldera High School and works with students facing learning disabilities, helping them with study skills and homework.
Navez Dircio, born in Mexico and raised in Bend, was himself a student who struggled with reading and writing — and he knows that his own special education teacher was integral to his success. That perspective helps make him an understanding and relatable educator.
Today, in addition to his work as a learning specialist, he also serves as a part-time instructor for COCC's Education discipline, a school ambassador for the National Honor Society, and he coaches soccer. He deeply values his diverse career: "Every day, I am excited to see students and to work with them."
Early Childhood Education graduate
Early Learning Center associate teacher, Oregon State University-Cascades
When Yoko Godlove was a student with the Early Childhood Education program, she began a field placement with the Little Beavs Child Care center, a relatively new joint project of Oregon State University-Cascades and COCC that's helping to address the severe lack of child care services in Central Oregon.
Godlove spent 20 hours each week engaging in hand-on activities with toddlers and preschoolers — playing, reading, singing, dancing — as she worked toward her college goals, and was promoted from student worker to associate teacher along the way.
"I'm honored to use my experience in early childhood education to help nurture the children who will be our future."
Prior to studying Early Childhood Education at COCC, the educator had over 10 years of experience in the child care field but realized she had lots to learn. "I thought I understood early childhood education, however, as I learned more, I began to feel a greater sense of responsibility and also a greater sense of pride in this profession. Early childhood educators play a major role in nurturing the potential of each and every child."
As an associate teacher, Godlove is responsible for creating daily curriculum, preparing activities, and caring for the children. Next year, she'll have her own class. And while helping to launch a much-needed resource in her community — with a paid position — she simultaneously achieved her Developmentally Appropriate Learning Environments certificate, a 21-credit training program.
"Children develop their imagination and thinking skills through play," she says. "Our role is to support them by providing a safe environment. I'm honored to use my experience in early childhood education to help nurture the children who will be our future."
Early Childhood Education graduate
Educational assistant, High Desert Education Service District
For as long as she can remember, Jasmine Yegge has loved working with children. That interest seemed to sprout early, during her formative babysitting days, and later it continued when she served as a teacher's assistant in high school. More than that, though, it feels deeply ingrained in who she is: "My interests only grew stronger when I became a big sister."
"COCC helped me get an education without being in debt and led me to many amazing instructors that have been nothing but helpful."
At COCC, Yegge earned two degrees and three certificates over the span of about three years: an Associate of Applied Science, an Associate of General Studies, the Developmentally Appropriate Learning Environments (DALE) certificate, and Equity in Education certificate, and the Child, Family, and Community Studies (CFC) Career Pathway certificate. As part of her training, she completed a practicum working with the High Desert Education Service District, which links school districts in Central Oregon to state and national education resources. She now works as an educational assistant for the High Desert Education Service District.
"I help support children three to five years old with varying needs in the classroom in order to get them socially and emotionally ready to go to kindergarten," she shares.
COCC gave Yegge a chance to thrive. She was a dean's list student and was selected by faculty for a spot on the 2022 All-Oregon Academic Team. Yegge feels gratitude for the overall educational experience and support that COCC has offered, setting her up for a successful future.
"COCC helped me get an education without being in debt and led me to many amazing instructors that have been nothing but helpful, caring, and inspiring on my journey forward."