Opal School Resident Apprentice Program

At Portland Children’s Museum – Sponsored by the Museum Center for Learning

The Opal School Resident Apprentice Program is designed for teachers searching for an in depth, hands-on experience in facilitating inquiry based approaches to teaching and learning through the arts and sciences.  We are looking for people who have completed a degree in education who are open, love to learn, are willing to take direction and work collaboratively as a member of a group, and who are ready to fulfill the needs of the community wherever and whenever they arise.

The intention of this program is to immerse teachers in Opal’s culture of inquiry in order to help them develop a genuine understanding of instructional methodologies that can be applied in schools beyond Opal.

The program offers a year-long, intensive teaching experience.  With the guidance and support of experienced teachers, Apprentices take part in the daily life of the school and museum community, sharing in planning and instruction, celebrations, parent communication, assessment, documentation, and professional development.  Apprentices have an opportunity to address a national audience with a presentation of original research and reflection during the annual Opal Summer Symposium.

Participation in the Museum Center for Learning’s professional development mentorship program is included, as are copies of all Center published material.  Additionally, the Center covers the cost of 5 graduate credit hours through Portland State University.

Program components include:

  • In classroom teaching experience
  • Mentoring from experienced teachers
  • Regular professional development workshops
  • Graduate credit through Portland State University
  • Opportunities to substitute for Opal teachers at the current substitute rate of pay


Resident Apprentice Teachers work full time in a classroom for one school year.  From the start, they are included in all planning, preparation, discussion, and curricular decisions with their teaching teams.  This focus on collaboration and teamwork is reflected throughout the school.  Apprentice teachers are assigned primary connection to one classroom, but have experience working collaboratively throughout the school as the year goes on.  Apprentices work at all grade levels, serve on committees, and help plan school-wide projects.  Our focus on collaboration demands collegial, highly professional working relationships.

At Opal School the education is dynamic, exciting, relevant and useful.  Classrooms are multi-age; children in each classroom work at different levels, set individualized goals, take academic risks, and mentor each other.  Teachers are immersed in a project of ongoing original research, the results of which are in high demand from a growing and international audience.  Resident Apprentices are an integral part of this innovation.  They bring new ideas and educational theories to school discussions, enriching not only their own experience but also the experience of the entire school community.

The Museum Center for Learning provides a multi-layered support network.  Apprentices meet regularly with a mentor teacher in addition to daily interactions with the collaborating teacher.  In addition, the Apprentice participates in weekly professional development meetings with the entire Opal staff.  Apprentices are encouraged to share ideas, ask questions and gather support from these colleagues.

Apprentices participate in professional development workshops and meeting concerning relevant topics, which will include:

  • Leadership and mentoring
  • Creativity and sustainability
  • The fundamentals of the Reggio Approach
  • Teacher research
  • Standards-based teaching and the use of inquiry approaches
  • Developing learning communities
  • Current brain research and implications for teaching
  • Curriculum mapping
  • The connections between arts and literacy
  • Developing a language of mathematics
  • Supporting the social and emotional development of children
  • Assessment and documentation
  • Readings and discussion of professional articles
  • Cultural competence


The year culminates with an opportunity to participate Opal’s Summer Symposium designed to synthesize the year’s experiences and set the course for continued professional growth.

To apply:

Please send a resume and letter of interest to:

Susan MacKay, Director of Education and the Museum Center for Learning