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Scholarship looks to add diverse teachers to local schools

South Bend, Ind. –

A scholarship at IUSB is hoping to reach out to students of color, by hiring more teachers of color.

The university’s Underrepresented Teacher Scholarship aims to make sure all local schools are diverse and inclusive.

Two recipients of the program received cultural competency training this week at Rise Up Academy.

They say, when they were in school, education lacked understanding.

“I had a teacher call me stupid,” said scholarship recipient Celest Phillips. “I never wanted a teacher to have the ability to define you.”

They’re both products of South Bend Community Schools and they’re now looking to pay it forward.

“I want to give back,” said Phillips. “I want to tell them, ‘you don’t have to give up.’”

What inspires them to return to the classroom once discouraged them.

“I never had a teacher that looks like me,” said scholarship recipient Roberto Leo.

It’s a problem many kids today still face.

The district’s enrollment in 2016 was quite diverse.

According to the state’s department of education, Black students made up 36 percent, White students made up 31 percent and Hispanic and Multiracial students made up 21 and nine percent respectively.

Staffing, on the other hand, was not as diverse.

White certified teachers made up 86 percent, while Black and Hispanic certified teachers made up nine and two percent respectively.

“Young people grow up believing that what they see is the reality of the world that’s possible for them as well,” said Kay Pranis, trainer in the Peacemaking Circle Process.

Pranis explains representation in leadership goes a long way with minority students.

But even if we’re not there yet, understanding can help bridge that gap.

“I would want it in every school, I want everyone to feel like they belong, and feel like they have a life that has meaning,” said Pranis.

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