‘Representation matters.’ Yonkers program encourages students to become teachers to diversify field

Studies show students are more successful in school when they can see themselves in their teachers, but statistically, at least in terms of race, that's not happening in New York schools.

News 12 Staff

Sep 19, 2022, 9:47 PM

Updated 617 days ago

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Studies show students are more successful in school when they can see themselves in their teachers, but statistically, at least in terms of race, that's not happening in New York schools.
New York State United Teachers says 56% of New York students are of color, but there are only 19% teachers of color.
The Yonkers Federation of Teachers says there are 77% students of color but only 26% teachers of color in their district.
New York educators are trying to solve this issue by encouraging students to become teachers.
Roosevelt High School senior Valiente Munoz is enrolled in his school's college-length foundation in education class, in partnership with Iona College.
"Teachers have had such a positive impact on me and if I could do that for at least one student, I'd be satisfied,” he says.
For four years, YFT has been running the Take A Look at Teaching/Grow Your Own program thanks to a grant NYSUT got for districts across the state.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango says the goal is strengthening and diversifying the teacher pipeline.
"Representation matters,” she says. “You can't be what you can't see."
DiBrango says race is only one perspective to look at when trying to improve diversity. There's also gender, financial background, sexual oreintation, disability and more to consider.
"We would love to see more diversification in our ranks,” he says.
DiBrango says the YFT 's Take A Look at Teaching programs is one of the strongest in the state, seeing about 100 students in just four years.
Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, the YFT’s first Latina president, says in the program's first year, about 25% of students went on to enroll in teacher prep programs and then returned as paid interns after graduation.
The after-school program teaches kids everything from how to make a lesson plan to how to fund their own education.
Valiente says he's noticed a difference from his early years in school when teachers had to bring in translators compared to middle and high school, with more diversity at the front of the class.
NYSUT says it hopes to get permanent funding for more programs in the future.


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