Category Archives: Diversity Resources

Articles and research on diversity in education

Future Teachers Step Up To Leadership

Six students have been inducted into leadership positions in the Connecticut Educators Rising program, which encourages high school students to aspire to careers in education.

Educators Rising is a “Grow Your Own” program that provides a clear educational pathway to students to increase teacher diversity and teacher quality.  

Educators from the University of Bridgeport (UB), Educators Rising, and the Connecticut State Department of Education were on hand to congratulate the future teachers.

From left, Dr. Patricia Mulcahy-Ernt, Mary Glassman, Dr. Shuana Tucker, Sinthia Sone-Moyano, Woody Exley, Sherrod Cuttino, Mimi Colón, Jacquelin Rybnick, Alivia Afable, Danyelix Echevarria-Figueroa, Isaias Rodríguez Sánchez, Dr. Danielle Wilken, Tricia Putnam, Dr. Khaled Elleithy, and Dr. Tonya Chacón.

EdRising Student Cabinet

Inducted into the Connecticut EdRising Student Cabinet in a ceremony at the University of Bridgeport were:

  • Danyelix Echevarria-Figueroa, New Britain High School, President
  • Alivia Afable, Waterbury Career Academy, Vice President of Engagement
  • Mimi Colón, New Britain High School, Vice President of Communications
  • Jacquelyn Rybnick, Stamford High School, Vice President of Service
  • Isaias Rodríguez Sánchez, New Britain High School, Representative At-Large
  • Sherrod Cuttino, Central Connecticut State University, Representative At-Large in the recently established college-level Aspiring Educators program.

Varied Responsibilities

In their positions, the students will have a variety of responsibilities in ensuring the success of the EdRising program in their schools. This will give them the opportunity to cultivate their leadership capabilities while advancing the program.

The EdRising program enables high school students to take courses related to education careers and to serve in internships in local schools. They can also earn university credit by taking courses at their schools taught by certified university teachers.

Congratulating the aspiring teachers were:

From the University of Bridgeport: Dr. Danielle Wilken, President; Dr. Khaled Elleithy, Dean, College of Engineering, Business, and Education; Dr. Patricia Mulcahy-Ernt, Director, School of Education; and Dr. Tonya Chacón, Coordinator of the Elementary Education Program.

From the Connecticut State Department of Education: Sinthia Sone-Moyano and Dr. Charles Hewes, Deputy Commissioners; Dr. Shuana Tucker, Chief Talent Officer; and Mary Glassman, Workforce Diversity and Educator Effectiveness Officer.

Also participating was Tricia Putnam, Connecticut State and Regional EdRising Coordinator for PDK International, whose mission is to eliminate the teacher shortage by supporting EdRising programs across the country.

Establishing Pathways

UB’s Dr. Mulcahy-Ernt hopes that some of the students will enroll in the educator-preparation program at the University of Bridgeport. “EdRising is having an impact by establishing pathways for future educators,” she says. “It’s introducing them to the teaching profession and enabling them to step up to leadership positions.”

Dr. Chacón notes that students can accelerate the speed of their professional journey by taking university courses while in high school. “We’re creating pathways for young people who are interested in becoming educators,” she says. “We want to foster that, and we want to nurture that. Educators Rising is the perfect way to do that. They can earn university credit at a nominal fee.”

Inspirational Program

“EdRising inspired me to become a teacher,” says Isaias Rodríguez Sánchez, a student in New Britain. “The program has helped me to develop the skills that I need to become an educator. It has helped me to strengthen my public speaking skills and my social skills. The EdRising club at school is like a family.”

EdRising has chapters in many states. In Connecticut, the program is one of many initiatives advanced by the state Department of Education to address the teacher shortage as well as the dearth of educators of color.

Nearly 500 students are participating in high schools in Ansonia, Bristol, Danbury, East Hartford, Farmington, Groton, Hamden, Hartford, Manchester, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Stamford, Torrington, Waterbury, and Windsor. More than 80 percent of the participants are students of color, which is important since only 11 percent of educators in Connecticut are persons of color compared to over half of the students in public schools.

State Teacher of the Year: ‘Representation Matters’

Kim King, Connecticut’s 2022 state teacher of the year, speaking to a diverse group of future teachers, shared her personal perspective as a Korean American on the need to increase the diversity of the educator workforce in Connecticut.

Kim King, 2022 CT Teacher of the Year

Ms. King, an art teacher in Mansfield, spoke to more than 100 students attending an Educators Rising conference. The program provides classes and clinical experience to encourage high school students to pursue careers in eduction. Central Connecticut State University hosted the virtual event.

Following are excerpts from her remarks.

Feeling Hopeful

“Seeing so much diversity in our pre-service educators gives me hope. I went through elementary, high school, college, and graduate school without ever seeing a teacher who looked like me.

“This lack of representation was especially damaging because I’m an inter-country, transnational adoptee, which means I grew up outside of my race and culture. I grew up in a white family where I learned it was ungrateful to ask about being adopted or even being Korean. I was their kid. End of story.

“However well intentioned, it was extremely misguided. I was forced to shape my identity of what it means to be Asian in America based on inaccurate depictions in the media and commonly held stereotypes from the adults around me.

“I carried for the first part of my life shame in my identity. I didn’t see myself reflected in the American experience, our country’s history, or even my school. But hopefully, the next generation of students will see themselves reflected in their teachers and in the content being taught in their classrooms.

“Representation matters. It is critical during a time when some states are limiting their educators’ ability to teach the truth.

Teaching Is an Act of Hope

“Who we are – our histories, our experiences – all inform who we will be as teachers. Teaching is a radical practice. It is an act of hope. Whether you consider yourself an optimist or not, teaching is the ultimate act of optimism.

“You have to believe that what you are doing will impact future generations. You have to have faith that the seeds you are planting today will bear fruit years from now. Otherwise, why teach?

“Teaching is fundamentally about connections and the profound impact a relationship can have on a student. It is the small gesture or words that stick with a student long after the memories of a lesson have faded. It is making a student feel seen, heard, and empowered that matters.

Students at 22 high schools in 19 cities and towns are participating in Educator Rising, which provides coursework and clinical experience to students to encourage them to pursue careers in education.

Connecticut Laser-Focused on Educator Diversity

Since 2017, school districts in Connecticut have hired more than 1,900 educators of color, surpassing the goal set by the State Board of Education in its five-year strategic plan.

According to the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), a wide range of evidence supports the benefits of a diverse educator workforce. Benefits include gains in student achievement as well as lower dropout rates and higher college admissions.

Multi-Pronged Approach

Since achieving its goal, the CSDE has been implementing a multi-pronged approach to further diversify the educator workforce in the state’s public schools. Key initiatives include the following:

A Guidebook for Hiring and Selection prepared by the CSDE provides support and guidance to help school districts increase the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of their educator workforces. 

An Enhanced Educator Certification Reciprocity Policy streamlines the processing of certification of educators who hold valid and active out-of-state certification. This is expediting efforts to recruit diverse, high-quality educators from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. 

NextGen Educators gives undergraduate educator candidates the opportunity to work in school districts to gain valuable experience and gives districts immediate access to new talent while addressing staffing shortages.

Educators Rising introduces middle- and high-school students to careers in education. In the 2021-22 school year, the program has nearly 500 students enrolled in clubs and courses in 22 schools in 19 mostly urban districts, which have high numbers of students of color. 

The Male Educator Network (MEN) initiative, a subset of Educators Rising, focuses solely on young men of color with an interest in careers in education. Currently, there are two pilot sites located at E. Hartford High School and New Britain High School.

TEACH Connecticut supports aspiring educators with free, one-on-one support, financial aid resources, information on educator-preparation programs, and more. In year three of the program, TEACH CT supported more than 500 applicants, 41 percent of whom identify as people of color and 39 percent of whom want to teach in a subject shortage area.

Connecticut Troops to Teachers aims to address teacher shortage areas, increase the number of male teachers of color, and reduce veteran unemployment.

The Minority Teacher Recruitment Policy Oversight Council is developing strategies to attract middle- and high-school students to careers in education, encourage college students of color to enroll in educator-preparation programs, recruit educators from other states, and more. 

Virtual Career Fairs are held in partnership with Regional Education Service Centers (RESCs). Invitations are sent to certified teachers of color who are not currently teaching, recent graduates of Connecticut educator-preparation programs, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-Serving institutions. 

RESC Regional Consortia enable diverse local educators to convene and develop workforce diversity plans that address attracting, recruiting, hiring, supporting, and retaining educators.

The EdKnowledge Online Repository hosts promising practices and models of success to retain educators of color.