xml:space="preserve">
Winters Mill principal Michael Brown walks to the stage to be recognized during Carroll County Public Schools' 2019 Culture Expo at Winters Mill High School in Westminster Wednesday, Aug. 21. Brown recently recently spoke to some 100 students at the Minority Student Summit.
Winters Mill principal Michael Brown walks to the stage to be recognized during Carroll County Public Schools' 2019 Culture Expo at Winters Mill High School in Westminster Wednesday, Aug. 21. Brown recently recently spoke to some 100 students at the Minority Student Summit. (Dylan Slagle)

In an update on the Carroll County Public Schools strategic plan, the Board of Education was briefed on the way the school system is working to improve hiring and retaining staff members from minority populations.

“As we continue to recognize the benefits of having minority educators in the classroom, for minority and non-minority students, we also acknowledge that for CCPS, staffing diversity remains one of our most significant challenges,” said Chantress Baptist, director of Human Resources for CCPS. “However I also believe, one day it will be one of our greatest triumphs.”

Advertisement

Some of the trends seen in CCPS mirror challenges across the state. The Maryland Teacher Staffing Report defined male teachers and teachers from minority groups a state-wide shortage, Baptist said.

Carroll County Public Schools’ has an equity policy for the first time, approved formally in June.

Teachers in computer science, ESOL, science grades 7-12, mathematics, and special education in all subject areas are areas where teachers are in short supply. Media specialists, school psychologists, and speech pathologists are also shortage in schools, according to the staffing report. Baptist believes one of the reasons for this is the recession that pushed many people away from education and into private-sector jobs with higher earning potential.

Even as they support Maryland State Department of Education’s long-term efforts to encourage more minority students to join the education field, in the short term, CCPS is working on expanding geographically in their recruiting, to the rest of the east coast and even into Chicago.

“We have to get our name out there ... so we can become a school system of choice,” Baptist said.

One part of this is a new recruiter training program. Jim Rodriguez, supervisor of Physical Education and Health and Winters Mill Principal Michael Brown came to the meeting to talk about their experiences in the recruiting end of the school system.

Eldersburg Elementary School fifth-grader Caleb Elburn completes a worksheet as students compare the distance traveled by golf balls hit with several different club designs with help from school system Supervisor of Physical Education and Health Jim Rodriguez. Rodriguez recently spoke to some 100 students at the Minority Student Summit.
Eldersburg Elementary School fifth-grader Caleb Elburn completes a worksheet as students compare the distance traveled by golf balls hit with several different club designs with help from school system Supervisor of Physical Education and Health Jim Rodriguez. Rodriguez recently spoke to some 100 students at the Minority Student Summit. (Dylan Slagle)

Rodriguez opened by talking about the Minority Student Summit Nov. 12 that brought together about 100 students from across CCPS for leadership training. He said he heard students say directly that they don’t always have an adult to turn to who looks like them and can relate to what they’ve experienced.

"There are a lot of attractive things about Carroll County, but we need to make that known to qualified minority educators out there so they can come join us in our system,” he said.

Brown talks to potential candidates from his experience as the second African-American secondary principal hired in CCPS history.

“I take that very personally and really take this work home with me every day on how we can really change the narrative in our school district. My experience has been nothing but phenomenal," he said.

“When I talk to other minority candidates ... it’s almost like they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop."

For Carroll County, it’s fighting a narrative that is a history, he said.

“I don’t think that that’s current. I think that’s probably in the past, way long in the past. So my job is trying to change that narrative,” he said.

HR Director for Carroll County Public School's Chantress Baptist speaks to new teachers during the Carroll County Public School new teacher orientation at Century High School Friday August 17, 2018. Staffing diversity remains a significant challenge, said Baptist, who also said she believes, "one day it will be one of our greatest triumphs.”
HR Director for Carroll County Public School's Chantress Baptist speaks to new teachers during the Carroll County Public School new teacher orientation at Century High School Friday August 17, 2018. Staffing diversity remains a significant challenge, said Baptist, who also said she believes, "one day it will be one of our greatest triumphs.” (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times /)

Board member Patricia Dorsey, who for many years was Carroll’s only African-American principal, said she remembered being in Brown’s shoes working to recruit minority educators. She said she found success when young teachers with one to two years experience could speak to prospective candidates.

Baptist agreed that’s still part of the strategy. Candidates “really appreciate that opinion," she said and can even find a mentor in that person.

Advertisement

Traditionally, CCPS has had partnerships for recruiting fresh-out-of-college teachers from McDaniel College, Towson University and the University of Maryland.

That's still true, but new partnerships this year include the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, Partnership with HBCU Connect, New York City Bilingual & Diversity Jobs, American Association for Employment in Education, CREC Expert Solutions, K-12 Power Schools, Mid-Atlantic Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, and Malcolm Bernard HBCU Recruitment.

They continuously evaluate and swap these partnerships if they don’t produce results, Baptist said.

The goal is to increase minority staff percentage to 5% in the next school year and 6% in 2022-23.

Carroll County Public Schools continues to struggle when it comes hiring more diverse educators, the most recent numbers from the school system show.

They hope to increase the minority staff retention rate to equal or greater the non-minority staff retention, which was 93% in 2018.

More precise results on hiring and retention will come in February 2020.

Judith Jones, Equity and Inclusion officer, said her office is focused on retaining educators and staff of color once they become part of CCPS.

Carroll County Public Schools Supervisor of Equity and Community Outreach Judith Jones was recently presented with the Maryland Multicultural Coalition's Jack Epstein Award for her contributions to multicultural education in Maryland. Jones said her office is focused on retaining educators and staff of color once they become part of CCPS.
Carroll County Public Schools Supervisor of Equity and Community Outreach Judith Jones was recently presented with the Maryland Multicultural Coalition's Jack Epstein Award for her contributions to multicultural education in Maryland. Jones said her office is focused on retaining educators and staff of color once they become part of CCPS. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

One way to do this is through leadership opportunities, either mentoring students or fellow teachers. She used the Minority Youth Summit as an example, where she invited some teachers of color so students could meet them.

Looking forward, she is researching the best ways to expand leadership development and mentoring opportunities.

Last year, an employee engagement survey received low participation rates. Jones said it could have been the timing, close to the end of the semester when grades are due, one of the most overwhelming times for new teachers. Jones said this spring, they will try doing one-on-one interviews with new hires of color.

Cultural proficiency training with staff are also exciting steps in the school system, Jones said. In addition to scheduled training, she and Baptist have been asked to visit some schools to talk with faculty.

They have asked questions regarding, "'How do we have beneficial courageous conversation with our students and with each other as a staff?' They really want to do it right, and we’re just happy that they’re reaching out to us for support in that matter,” she said.

“Capturing the information and the perspectives of our employees is essential. To give their experiences, whether its good or bad, helps us to improve,” Baptist said.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement