Why is a program like the Black Educator Excellence Cohort important for Black teachers?
While 70% of the US student population identifies as Black, less than 9% of teachers identify as Black—and only 2% are Black men. Over the last four years, we have seen a significant increase in Black participants in TNTP Teaching Fellows, mostly due to the support offered through the Black Educator Excellence Cohort (BEEC). However, even with the support our Black Fellows receive through the BEEC, due to systematic barriers such as finances and biased certification exams, there are still too many passionate aspiring teachers who are kept from entering the classroom.
We know that students thrive when they have a teacher who reflects their identity, and the unfortunate reality is that too many students go through their K–12 education experience without seeing one teacher who looks like them. Fortunately, I came from a family of educators, but I didn’t have one Black teacher until I reached college. It wasn’t until then that I realized the impact this had on my educational experience. Representation definitely matters.
What impact have you seen the BEEC have on Fellows?
I have heard time and time again from our Fellows that they wouldn’t be able to go through the program without the support of the BEEC. Not only is the financial and test preparation support valuable, but building a community with a cohort of people who may share similar experiences is so beneficial during the first years of teaching. Too often there are only one or two Black teachers in a building, and feelings of isolation can have an impact on how teachers show up for their students. The BEEC creates a safe space to make necessary connections and create a sense of belonging.
What do you enjoy most about being involved with the BEEC?
Recruiting for the BEEC allows me to personally connect with our future teachers and hear their testimony of why they want to become a teacher and how the BEEC is often the opportunity needed to make the big decision to begin their teaching journey. Being able to offer this amazing program that helps more Black teachers enter the classroom, which will ultimately impact ALL students, really keeps me going every day.