Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Community Education Program is always searching for that next great instructor

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InPerson - Joshua James Amberson

Community Ed instructor Joshua James Amberson.

Do you have what it takes to teach a non-credit course at Portland Community College? If so, the college’s Community Education Program may have a spot for you.

The program offers hundreds of non-credit classes each term and enrolls more than 25,000 students annually. Classes range from languages like Irish Gaelic to wine pairing to one-on-one fitness training. Miriam Budner, a program coordinator for Community Education, said a great instructor cultivates a community in their classes.

“We are seeking instructors with a real interest in connecting with students and connecting students to each other,” Budner said. “In many of our classes, we’re interested in building community, community expertise or community explorations. The instructor is not just an expert and a font of knowledge, but also a facilitator.”

Brian Ó hAirt fits the prototype that Budner looks for. He has taught Irish Gaelic at PCC for three years and enjoys working with students to find ways to make language learning more accessible.

Ó hAirt also wants to place language in the context of history, as well as make his classes as fun and interactive as possible.

“What I go for in general is getting people to laugh,” Ó hAirt said. “They also wan some sort of connection, so getting them to laugh and loosen up a little bit is important, especially over this past year.

Teaching for Community Ed

When looking for an instructor, PCC seeks someone who is curious and steeped in their subject matter. Plus, they have a great passion for their class topics, love teaching, and want to share that with the community.

Learn More! »

“I’m a product of community college,” he continued. “Working at PCC is an opportunity for me to continue this important journey of supporting education regardless of socioeconomic status. It’s to foster community. A lot of these people will become my friends and, to me, that’s important. It breaks down that whole hierarchy of education. I’m doing my bit to really support our community and learn within our community.”

Ó hAirt takes his students through an educational journey that can be heavy, too. He discusses when Irish immigrants came to the United States and how they were put at the lowest socioeconomic rung of the ladder. Then, to climb the ladder, some of them waged violence against other marginalized groups.

Eleni Woldeyes, who teaches Ethiopian cooking classes, loves connecting with her students, as well. In addition to her PCC courses on making Injera and other Ethiopian dishes, Woldeyes sells sauces in retail stores like New Seasons Market and Market of Choice, as well as at farmers markets.

“The best part of teaching is that connection to people,” Woldeyes said. “Teaching about Ethiopian food makes me feel like I’m sharing my story and being authentic.”

One benefit of teaching via Zoom during the pandemic is that cooking classes are much more hands-on. Students will buy and prepare the ingredients themselves, participating in every step of the process. For harder-to-find spices, Woldeyes will mail them to her students in advance of the class.

“It’s fun to see your students in their own kitchens,” Woldeyes said.

Art instructor Leslie Barnum has had to adapt her courses for the pandemic, as well. She teaches six classes focusing on watercolor, ink and mixed media.

“I’ve learned to create and edit videos using my iPhone. I also use it for a painting demonstration during my classes,” Barnum said. “I’ve heard from my students that these classes were a real lifesaver. This year has been tough for a lot of people, and Community Ed has been their connection.”

Barnum shared that it is especially meaningful helping people who have never been able to explore their artistic talents. They are now open to try new things.

“I appreciate the connection with my students,” she said. “Many of my students are retired people who are finally able to try something that they’ve always wanted to try. There are so many people that always had an interest in art, but never tried it. Helping people explore is really great.”

Remote - Gary Duell

Remote class taught by Gary Duell.

About Sarah Rose Evans

Sarah Rose Evans is a graduate of Columbia University's school of the arts, and has been working for Portland Community College since 2015. more »

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Sorry, but the comments have been closed. If you see something that doesn't belong, please click the x and report it.

x by hanan 8 months ago

I want to be in the test.. I’m a new student

x by Sarah Rose Evans 8 months ago

Hi Hanan,

The best thing to do would be to call 971-722-8886 or email the testing center closest to you:

Cascade: testing.ca@pcc.edu
Newberg: newberg.center.testing@pcc.edu
Rock Creek: testing.rc@pcc.edu
Southeast: testing.se@pcc.edu
Sylvania: testing.sy@pcc.edu

x by Jay Monk 8 months ago

Would PCC Community Education want to offer a bike riding class non-credit? I am attending the college studying GIS & Geomatics right now. I have a background as a professional cycling tour guide. I have experience with route planning, navigation, theatre on tours, and other recreational aspects related to group cycling. We’re going into the off-season for touring now, but its something to think about if PCC would want to offer a course in the Spring or Summer 2022.

x by Doreen Hanna 8 months ago


Eleni Woldeyes is a beautiful woman of color and so well featured in the picture ~ wonderful!

However, why is she the lead in and yet when you click on the read more, what is seen first is a picture of a white man and his story. Why isn’t Eleni featured first since her picture and her story draws the reader in?

It doesn’t make sense to me. Does it to the writers of the story? If it does, perhaps there is further discussion that needs to take place?

Thanks, Doreen

x by Sarah Rose Evans 8 months ago

Hi Doreen,

Thanks for your feedback! I really enjoyed writing this story and the rich conversations I had with some of our community education instructors. Our students and community really benefit from understanding the range of class options available to them. From an editorial standpoint, we try to mix photos and stories in a way that captures readers’ interests, be it the photo or the article. We were really grateful to be able to use the lovely photo of Eleni. We try to maintain a journalistic cadence by varying photos and the opening quotes, especially when we’re featuring multiple instructors. We want to be able to highlight everyone who participated. Thanks again for reading the piece and sharing your thoughts!

x by James Hill 8 months ago

Thanks Doreen for reading, Sarah is correct. Plus, Eleni’s photo is the cover artwork for the feature on the website. So to be equitable to the other instructors who contributed we used their pictures in the story. Hope this helps!

x by Neil 7 months ago

If P.C.C. is looking for instructors who might be reading this article, why not include phone numbers and URLs for use by interested candidates?

x by James Hill 7 months ago

Hi Neil, please see the article’s sidebar for the link to applying. Thanks!