VCU School of Education joins national effort to recruit, prepare and retain black teachers

The School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University and its teacher residency program RTR have received a nearly $500,000 grant to recruit, prepare, support and retain black educators and to establish a Teachers of Color Excellence Center at VCU.

The grant from the National Center for Teacher Residencies comes through the organization’s Black Educators Initiative, a five-year, $20-million effort to recruit and train 750 new black teachers in its nationwide network of teacher residency programs.

It will support an estimated 206 black educators — 18 current and 30 future RTR residents, 41 RTR graduates and 116 black students in VCU master’s degree and doctoral programs — with tuition support for RTR residents, and emergency funding, mentoring and induction, professional development, and other resources for all black educators across the School of Education.

“There is a need to increase the number of black teachers,” said LaRon Scott, Ed.D., who is leading the project. “Black teachers benefit students from different racial backgrounds in various ways. For example, black teachers are found to be more motivating, supportive of students, and contribute to positive school outcomes, including higher student achievement and reducing suspension.”

RTR, formerly called Richmond Teacher Residency, is a highly selective graduate teacher residency program that recruits, trains, and supports teachers for high-needs and hard-to-staff schools. It serves four Virginia school divisions: Chesterfield County Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Petersburg Public Schools and Richmond City Public Schools.

“We are thrilled that this award will advance the important work that we are already doing in the School of Education to increase the diversity of our teaching force and to prepare all teachers to be more effective with students of color,” said Therese Dozier, Ed.D., director of RTR and the Center for Teacher Leadership at VCU.

The Teachers of Color Excellence Center will be a hub for understanding needs and for providing support services. It will pilot an equity and culturally-focused mentoring and induction support program; provide co-curricular experiences; develop and implement a longitudinal data collection system that gathers background information on environmental factors that might support recruitment and retention (such as family background, experience in schools and trauma); and provide financial supports for black teachers, including black RTR residents and graduates.

“The main goal for this project is to provide a safe space through our Center for Educators of Color, particularly [for] our black educators to receive the supports, mentoring, advising and resources they need to be successful,” Scott said. “I also hope that the center will serve as a place to understand these educators’ experiences, and track the patterns and mobility through their preparation programs and careers so that we can improve the racial diversity of the teacher workforce.”

Nationally, less than 20 percent of teachers are people of color, and only 7 percent of them are black. Research has found that that students of color do better in school and consider going to college at higher rates when they are taught by teachers with similar racial and demographic backgrounds, according to the National Center for Teacher Residencies. The organization’s Black Educators Initiative aims to improve student achievement by increasing access to black teachers.

RTR was one of eight residency programs across the country to receive awards through the Black Educators Initiative’s first round of funding.

The project at VCU and RTR will benefit Richmond/Petersburg-area schools, school districts and students by strengthening the recruitment and retention pipeline of Black teachers, who can serve the needs of the community, Scott said.

“RTR has a strong history of training and preparing diverse teachers, and this project will ensure that they are also retained for years to come,” he said. “This grant will also help to support Black teacher educators in the VCU SOE as a whole, in the same way.”

RTR is proud to announce the Cohort 9 recipients of the Black Educator Scholarship below.

Kenya Harris
Anny Hopkins
JoAnn Patterson
Kira Patterson
Andrea Cunningham
Paula Steward
Sheryon Sydnor
Sharese Williams
Unicia Buster

Kasey McGhee

Dan Elie
Quentin Parham
De'Anna Parsons
La Tañya Johnson
Anthony Jones
Aqeelah Mateen
Ian Plummer
Jasmine Stith
Jazmin Brunson

Welcome New Residents!

RTR welcomes 49 new residents into Cohort 9. Residents started classes in late May and launched with their Clinical Resident Coaches (CRCs) on August 18th with Senegal Mabry, a Brother’s Keeper board member, as the keynote speaker. Senegal highlighted the importance of the practice and value of LOVE when teaching ALL students.

If you are passionate about social justice — about teaching for change — about changing lives, communities, and student outcomes — then RTR is where you need to be.