Virginia Tech wants to have more diverse teachers

A new program is looking to address this

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech is crossing state lines by working with Shaw University to address the lack of diversity among teachers.

Both schools have created a pipeline for students who graduated from Shaw University, a historically Black college in North Carolina.

This program is geared specifically to students studying STEM at a historically Black college and university. The goal is to get students from historically underrepresented populations to apply to the graduate programs that Virginia Tech offers in science education and STEM education.

The Virginia Department of Education reports Roanoke County had 1,180 teachers and stated that only 20 of them were Black last school year. Meanwhile, Bedford County employed 795 teachers, with only 25 of them being Black last school year.

A report from the Pew Research Center shows that Black teachers made up 7% of the workforce compared to Black students who were 15% of students in U.S. public schools for the 2016 to 2017 school year.

“Virginia Tech’s School of Education has always had an eye on building a more diverse teacher workforce, and there is something incredibly powerful for students to be able to see somebody who I can see myself in,” said Interim Director Gerard Lawson for Virginia Tech’s School of Education.

There are currently two students who are enrolled in the program. They both take classes at Virginia Tech and teach in the Commonwealth’s schools. While neither student thought of pursuing a degree in teaching, they say the program is important for the students.

“It helps the community and the culture grow, and I think that’s the most important thing right now is helping the young generation,” said Whitney Osideko, who is currently enrolled in the program.

Meanwhile, Javari Burgess who is also enrolled in the program said it’s important for kids to see themselves represented because it goes beyond the classroom.

“It helps the community and culture grow. I think that’s the most important thing as of right now is helping the young generation, guiding the young generation to young leaders, young doctors, young teachers,” said Burgess.

The Virginia Teach and Shaw University partnership was also created to address teacher retention. The Virginia Department of Education reported more than 3,500 vacancies last year.

Virginia Tech said they plan on partnering with other historically Black colleges and universities for this program. It anticipates a new class to start this fall.

About the Author

Keshia Lynn is a Multimedia Journalist for WSLS. She was born and raised in Maryland and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and Society from American University and a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

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