Inspiring Representation in Education0
A racially diverse cast of educators can effectively establish cohesion and different outlooks among students. Unfortunately, the field of public education is lacking such diversity. To help counteract this issue, a group of students at Western Michigan University (WMU) created Future Teachers of Color (FTC) this past fall.
Established as a registered student organization, FTC was founded by William Wright, Sarah Giramia, Hailey Timmerman, Jarae McCoy, Terry Patton, Marcus Moore, and DeShaun Cornelius with Marcy L. Peake acting as an advisor. The group’s goal has been to connect teachers of color with support and community.
“Our mission is to bring together future educators of color at WMU with a focus on topics related to career preparation, academic success, mentorship, community service outreach, and networking skills,” said Timmerman.
Not limited to impacting just one race, FTC demonstrates that education is a field that all people of color can thrive in. As the organization’s acting president, Wright sees this ability to shift the narrative as a key tool for future teachers.
“Only two percent of black males are educators,” he explained. “Roughly 80 percent of public school teachers in the U.S. are white. There are places where most of the student population is black, while the teachers are almost entirely white. We need to find ways to recruit and retain students of color who want to be future teachers.”
Giramia agreed with this sentiment by sharing her own experiences as a student.
“I am a proponent for good teachers from all walks of life,” she added. “I went to a high school with a racially diverse group of students. When I first had a teacher that looked like me, there was a connection that I cannot really describe. Seeing a teacher of color always motivated me more.”
In addition to giving nonwhite students representation, Timmerman recognizes that teachers of color can also broaden the horizons of students.
“For students in the majority, having a teacher of color can expand their perspectives on both life and learning,” she explained.
Timmerman, Wright, and Giramia are proud to be a part of a close-knit network of future educators who are working to challenge the narrative that has faced teachers of color for so long. To better understand their passion for learning, we asked each of them why they wanted to become a teacher.
Originally from Uganda, Giramia’s interest in education came from watching her mother teach during times of conflict.
“When I was younger, my mom ran a school for children who were orphaned by the war and that really stuck with me,” she explained. “I knew when I was six that teaching was something I wanted to do.”
Similarly, Wright’s decision to become a teacher was inspired by both his mother and a beloved grade school teacher.
“My mom is a preschool director and teacher, so I have always been around education,” he shared. “My fourth-grade teacher at Spring Valley Elementary, Mrs. Wilson-Bridges (currently a teacher at Woods Lake Elementary), was also someone who inspired me.”
For Timmerman, the choice to become an educator is rooted in making a personal connection with future generations.
“When I am with children, I do not feel like it is work at all,” she said. “These kids need attention and love. Yes, I am there to teach curriculum, but I am also there to make them feel valued.”
Thanks for sharing your passion with us! We look forward to seeing FTC develop and grow. Those interested in learning more about the group can find additional information on the organization’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.