Temple University’s ongoing efforts to enhance teacher diversity and tackle prevalent barriers in education were recently highlighted on The Source with Andrea Lawful Sanders on WURD Radio. Dr. Juliet Curci, Assistant Dean of College Access and Persistence at Temple University’s College of Education and Human Development, and Shanae Bryan, Assistant Director of Alternative Pathways at Temple University, engaged in a conversation focusing on the importance of recruiting and retaining educators of color.
Temple University wants to solve the education problems facing Philadelphia. A big task for one entity, Curci and Bryan delved into the steps taken by Temple to encourage diverse teachers and equip them with the necessary resources and support.
“We’ve been working closely with the school district of Philadelphia, particularly with a dual enrollment program for high school students, providing them with college-level courses and mentorship,” Curci said. This Temple Education Scholars Program, launched in collaboration with the district, immerses high school seniors in college coursework, mentorship and exposure to the field of education.
Moreover, the collaboration with the Center for Black Educator Development, led by Sharif El- Mekki, has been instrumental in shaping a curriculum focused on black pedagogy and history, aiming to inspire young minds towards roles in education.
Although Temple has these initiatives, they also are faced with combatting the prevailing challenges that Black educators face – including the discouragement faced by potential educators due to misconceptions about pay scales, treatment in the profession and biases in hiring processes.
Bryan shared her personal journey and experience with the Temple Teacher Residency Program, emphasizing the importance of tailored support and guidance for aspiring educators. “My role involves wrapping support around every resident in our program, ensuring continuous guidance not only during the residency but also in their classroom experiences,” she said.
Addressing the need to encourage more individuals of color into the teaching profession, Shanae highlighted the importance of empowering children from an early age by affirming their potential in various professions, including teaching.
“Teachers are the original influencers,” Curci said. “They hold the power to drive significant positive change.” She advocated for increasing opportunities for individuals to work with children and young adults, exposing them to the diverse roles available within the education sector.
There are often financial barriers associated with pursuing a career in education. Initiatives like stipends during student teaching and making teacher certification more financially accessible were highlighted as steps toward addressing the shortage of high-quality educators.
They emphasized the need to elevate the status and remuneration of teachers, with Curci calling for increased salaries to reflect the invaluable contributions and dedication of educators. “We need to recognize and value our teachers for the transformative impact they have on our society.”