Educators gather in Richmond to promote more diversity in Virgin - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Educators gather in Richmond to promote more diversity in Virginia classrooms

Source: NBC12 Source: NBC12

How diverse is the staff teaching in your child's classroom? Some Virginia educators say - not as diverse as they'd like to see it.

That's why they've called on teachers from school systems all across the state to gather in Richmond this week to figure out solutions to make sure teaching staff matches the diversity of the student population.

For many new teachers, the classroom is a different world from where they've come from.

"If you're not used to being around someone that's different than you, you can't relate to what their problems are and you won’t be able to resolve it as well as someone who does relate," says Jessica White.

It's why the high school student has already made up her mind to go to college and become a teacher. White says when she shows up to her school:

"You can look at the staff, and it's like 1 in 7 that's a minority or a teacher of color," she said.

"My junior year of high school, I had my first minority teacher. That was my first time having a teacher of color," college freshman Thomas Wilson added.

The Norfolk State student says it opened his eyes to new possibilities.

"For me, teaching wasn't a viable option. It didn't seem like something that was feasible…It took someone else who looked like me to show me that I could do something like that," the education major said.

That's the point of the first ever Teachers of Color Summit in Richmond this week, organized by the Virginia Education Association.

"The Virginia Department of Education today informs us there are 800 unfilled teaching positions today in the Commonwealth, and that number is expected to grow," said Jim Livingston, President of the Virginia Education Association.

He's encouraging Human Resources departments at school districts across Virginia to step up recruitment of more diverse candidates.

"That's a major factor in a child's education," Livingston said.

"You relate to what you see. You relate to what's around you," White added.

The group is also calling on colleges not just to recruit diverse students to study education, but to support them through the process so they can graduate with tools to be successful teachers.

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