A Dialogue on Diversity: Osseo diversifies teaching staff
Part four of our series “A Dialogue on Diversity” looks at the fifth largest district in the state. Osseo Area Schools is focusing on ways to recruit a more diverse teaching staff. Nearly 55 percent of Osseo area students are students of color, while only 7 percent of its staff are teachers of color.
Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color
“We’re keeping race on the table and we’re focusing on our student’s needs,” said Recruiting and Retention Manager Dante Williams. “I would have like to have seen an educator that looked like me, as a role model.”
Williams could be on to something. Studies suggest the achievement gap can be reduced if there are educators who look like the students they are teaching.
“I think it’s vital for the academic experience. I think that there’s this natural humanist rapport that a person has when they see someone that comes from a similar life experience,” Williams explained.
The district has several initiatives to recruit more teachers of color. One includes encouraging current students to become educators.
“I mainly supervise and work with the kids in different rooms, doing different activities,” said student Katrina Le.
She worked at a summer program offered through the district and got a taste of what it’s like to be a teacher.
“You get to build like really good relationships with all of them, and you get to see them grow and learn,” says Le.
Although she wants to go into the medical field, Le is not ruling out teaching.
“However, I still feel like I could, maybe switch to education,” she said.
The district also teamed up with Metro State to make it more accessible to recruit diverse teachers. Under the program, student teachers get paid while they’re doing their 12-15 week internship. Williams says not getting paid is a roadblock for many aspiring teachers.
Meanwhile, on August 24th, Osseo Area Schools launched a Teachers of Color Mentoring program. There are 25 mentees and 12 mentors in the group. The goal is to inspire and prepare the next generation of educators.