Dec 18, 2015

Relay Educating Record Number of Teachers of Color

Relay Teaching Residency will help fill a critical need for more diverse teachers nationwide.
Relay Educating Record Number of Teachers of Color

Relay is proud to announce today that we are increasing the diversity of the teacher pipeline by training a growing number of black and Latino graduate students to enter the profession. Nearly two thirds of all participants in our 2015 Teaching Residencyprogram—64 percent—identify as black or Latino.

This momentum builds on a trend of growing diversity across Relay programs. About a third of all graduate students enrolled in Relay’s teacher training programs (including the Relay Teaching Residency and the Master of Arts in Teaching programs) over the last two years—33 percent, and 30 percent, in the 2014 and 2015 cohorts, respectively—identified as black or Latino.

“We are proud to have both residency and master’s programs preparing so many young, talented teachers of color,” said Mayme Hostetter, Relay Dean. “Many of our incoming teachers have chosen teaching, in part, because they want to serve as role models for their students; all of our incoming teachers have dedicated themselves to focus on the difficult work of preparing for the rigorous realities of the classroom.”

The 2015 incoming class of Relay’s Teaching Residency program is more than double the size of the previous year’s cohort, and we expect to grow the program in the year ahead to further expand the number of diverse, quality teachers.

“Relay is opening up new pathways to prepare talented men and women of color to lead classrooms and change lives,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF (United Negro College Fund). “Every child should have the experience of a teacher of color, those who look like them, as well as those who do not look like them. Relay’s successful efforts to recruit future education leaders of color demonstrates the true diversity of our country—few things are as integral to shoring up the fabric of our society than this."

The Relay teacher preparation model is noted for preparing top college grads and experienced professionals to work in low-income communities, often in their own neighborhoods. Relay-trained teachers produced 1.4 years of reading growth per year in 2014-2015. Faculty consists of proven K-12 public school educators whose aim is to ensure that teachers are prepared for the realities of teaching. Participants receive hundreds of opportunities for feedback and to grow their confidence in the face of mistakes, all while working to demonstrate measurable and meaningful student academic and character gains.

“This is the best type of schooling you can get because you’re practicing day-to-day scenarios that you will encounter. The feedback you receive is so helpful, pointing things out you didn’t notice…out of love, not out of criticism,” said Kelli Drayton, first year Relay Teaching Resident in Philadelphia. “I feel completely comfortable working with colleagues, professors. It’s all meant to help you be the best teacher and person that you can be. You feel more equipped, ready to go and battle anything.”

Our institution’s top inclusion figures come on the heels of numerous reports in recent years calling the disparity between the enrollment of students of color and teachers of color “a major stumbling block on the path towards greater academic performance for all students.” According to the National Education Association’s Report: “Time for a Change: Diversity in Teaching Revisited” (2014), “[a]s research shows, far too many educators, regardless of background, struggle to comprehend and employ the tenets of culturally responsive practice.”

While the student population in the United States grows more diverse—with students of color today representing nearly half of all American students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics Report: “Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools” (2015)—the population of teachers has actually grown less diverse. Two decades ago, 26 percent of the teaching population was of color, according to the same 2014 National Education Association Report. Today, a mere 18 percent of the PK–12 teaching corps are people of color.

Below, teaching residents at several Relay campuses across the country describe their experiences in the Relay Teaching Residency program and their commitment to serve as role models for students in their communities.

Gloria MunozRelay Chicago

“One of the reasons I came back to teach in my own community is because I benefited from the [very few] teachers of color I had as role models. I think if they see that ‘she did it [graduated from Stanford],’ they’ll feel: ‘I can do it too.’”

Kelvin JohnsonRelay Memphis

“The community of Relay is positive energy, fun to be around. Each day [teaching] also becomes easier, after practicing in Relay. We have the chance to iron out mistakes, but also [know] that in the classroom, it’s okay to make mistakes, [because we’ve learned how to] comfortably pivot. I [now] feel confident being in front of kids every day, like ‘I can do this.’”

Randy FrazierRelay Philadelphia & Camden

“Relay has taught me how to keep pushing students, to encourage kids to try even if they get it wrong….I am seeing results in the classroom, and better relationships with students.”

Keyna McClinekRelay Newark

“Relay has changed my life. It’s a community where you know that everyone in the room—including the Dean and the professors—are working towards personal growth…I am ready to try new things that will transform me into a more effective teacher.”

Shontoria WalkerRelay Houston

“Through Relay, I have an amazing team of people supporting me, from my Resident Advisor, who wishes she had knowledge she'd known as a first year teacher, to my mentor teacher and grade level chair."

Gio CruzRelay New York

“Because I’m from this neighborhood and community, it means that much more to me personally. I grew up in an underserved community and I see my friends and all of the kids I used to hang out with [in my students]. I don’t hide anything about who I am, so they know that I’m coming from love, and that makes all the difference. I definitely take that as an advantage.”

Learn more about the Relay Teaching Residency program.

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