Morgan Young sees first hand how students who have common cultural bonds with their teachers connect better with education and flourish in the classroom.
“It is really difficult to find texts that have positive Black male archetypes, but even if you don’t have the text, if you have the teachers that are positive Black male role models, that is helpful,” said Young, a Hilltop Elementary School teacher.
Young says increasing the diversity of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools workforce allows students to see themselves in the professionals with whom they are working and learning every day.
To work toward the strategic goal of recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce that will raise student engagement and achievement, Anne Arundel schools will hold a virtual Teacher Diversity Job Fair Saturday to connect with future educators.
About 200 candidates came to the virtual event last year, said Shineaca McKenzie, workforce diversity specialist. This year’s event will again will be virtual and is aimed at bringing in more job candidates from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, men interested in elementary or early childhood education, and those with backgrounds in math, science or other hard-to-fill subject areas.
“We want our students to have role models, and we also want the district to represent the world well,” she said.
Enrollment figures from fall of 2021 show that 49% of AACPS students are white, 22% are Black, 19% are Hispanic, 4% are Asian, 6% are two or more races and less than 1% are American Indian or Pacific Islander.
Of the 6,069 county schoolteachers working in October of 2021, 84.4% were white, 7.8% were Black and 7.8% were a race other than Black or white, according to a report published by the Maryland State Department of Education.
McKenzie said it is important for all students to encounter a variety of people, as they will outside the classroom in the real world.
In addition to this job fair, AACPS is recruiting teachers from Puerto Rico to address the need for more Spanish speakers. The school system is also looking for career-changers who are interested in education.
Job fair participants will have the chance to meet educators from every school in the system.
“I really was able to see a lot of different schools, a lot of different administrations and really figure out whose mission and vision aligned with my philosophy as a teacher,” Young said.
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Ultimately, that place was Hilltop Elementary School in Ferndale.
“I was really looking for an administration that had a strong affinity toward equity and using equitable practices within instruction. I also came from an arts integration school, and that is part of my internal methodology and vision as a teacher,” Young said.
Having a diverse teaching staff is important because it will help students learn, she said.
“It’s easier for them to communicate with us, which means that it’s easier for them to retain the information that they need to be academically successful,” she said.
It also fosters productive collaboration with co-workers, as colleagues share perspectives unique to their lived experience, fifth-grade teacher Keyona Rollins said. She was also recruited through the Teacher Diversity Job Fair.
“We’re able to provide a different perspective that they might not have,” Rollins said.
The event will run online Saturday, with virtual booths for each school. Registration is closed, but more details can be found on the AACPS website.