NCCU School of Education Awarded $10,000 to Expand Teacher Diversity

Posted September 09, 2020, 3:40PM

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has awarded North Carolina Central University’s (NCCU) School of Education $10,000 to expand diversity in teacher development and to lead educational equity initiatives in North Carolina.

In partnership with the Leadership Internship for Future Teachers (LIFT) program at NC State College of Education, NCCU will implement an educator e-mentoring initiative to support future teachers of color and bilingual teachers.

LIFT is a year-long program that helps prepare high school seniors from diverse backgrounds as well as bilingual speakers for careers in education. The program is part of a three-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation-funded project awarded to NC State.

Gregory Downing, Ph.D.
Gregory Downing, Ph.D.

NCCU School of Education faculty members are leading the coordination and identification of teachers to serve as educator e-mentors. NCCU faculty will also train and assess teachers to support LIFT students throughout their senior year.

“NCCU is honored and grateful to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for supporting this important partnership,” said Gregory Downing, Ph.D., grant principal investigator and assistant professor of math and science education in the NCCU School of Education. “Connecting future educators with mentors from a diverse pool of professionals will go a long way in repairing the teacher shortage in North Carolina, especially in the STEM subject areas.”

Recent reports by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization indicates that high school students benefit from mentorship along with traditional resources when making the successful transition from high school to college. Students of color, first-generation college students and low-income students who lack mentoring oversight may be overlooked by professors, experience career a goal/academic mismatch or be stereotyped as belonging in certain professions or academic majors.

“Students of color make up about half of the traditional North Carolina public school student body, while 80% of teachers are white,” said Anona Smith Williams, Ed.D., executive director of LIFT and associate dean for student success and strategic community engagement for NC State’s College of Education. “Many students of color and males can go throughout their entire K-12 educational experience without having a teacher of color or a male teacher. But we know that when students have a teacher of the same color or gender as them, they are better positioned for lifelong success and more likely to consider careers in education themselves.”

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