The Academy for Rising Educators prepares and supports teachers of color that model three program goals:
ARE teachers are rooted in our communities
As defined as a best Grow Your Own practice (Rogers-Ard, Knaus, Bianco, Brandehoff, & Gist, 2019), ARE’s program is highly collaborative and community-rooted, while providing intensive support for recruiting, preparing, placing, and retaining diverse classroom teachers who dismantle institutional racism and work towards educational equity. We recognize that growing one’s own must include placement and retention efforts for teachers of record, with an explicit focus on addressing institutional racial hostility and structural barriers, while providing culturally responsive development along the lifetime trajectory of educators. ARE’s operating assumption is that teacher candidates have experienced oppression as K-12 students and must navigate racially exclusive higher education systems in order to then be placed (and retained) as teachers within racially disparate schools. ARE’s program envisions teachers as culturally responsive and community-rooted change agents with valuable insider knowledge. These teachers already have a cultural, linguistic, and geographic foundation as insiders within local communities; they intentionally bridge the school/home divide while providing culturally responsive education and advanced academic opportunities for students (Gay, 2018; Valenzuela, 2016).
ARE teachers are dedicated to long-term teaching
ARE recruits individuals who are local and represent target populations. While they are undergraduates at local colleges, candidates will participate in ARE’s parallel curriculum, Teach For Liberation (T4L), which allows candidates to engage in anti-racist educational context designed to strengthen authentic educational presence for teachers of color. Once ARE teachers are prepared, the focus shifts to placement of community educators within schools where cultural isolation can be mitigated (Rogers-Ard, 2105). Advocacy with site-based leaders and SPS Human Resources is a critical component to ensure educators of color are well-supported once at the site (Knaus, 2014). In return, candidates are asked to commit to teaching at least three years. The intentional goal of providing quarterly support as a retention strategy during pre-service years and through to the first three years of teaching will lead to many teachers remaining either in the classroom or within the school district beyond their initial commitment because they already live in the area and have extensive local community ties. In this way, ARE intends to diversify the teacher workforce, increase retention, and improve the quality of preparation efforts through a combination of district partnerships with community colleges, universities, and community organizations.
ARE teachers are committed to anti-racist pedagogy
ARE Teachers are prepared and committed to using anti-racist methodology, strategies and techniques to create safe learning spaces for all students, employees, and community members. Anti-racist pedagogy includes examining the theory, structure and practice of racism and power relations embedded throughout history, the structure of schools, pedagogy, curriculum, and educational preparation. Ongoing practice raises self-awareness and empowers students by validating and acknowledging the toxicity and impact of everyday experiences, while fostering critical thinking and equipping students with anti-racist language and discussion skills. This goal requires teachers to commit to a lifelong developmental understanding of, and ability to interrupt, individual and systemic behaviors, and an orientation towards abolitionist teaching that challenges historic and contemporary intersectional oppression (Love, 2019).