The Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Teacher Quality and Retention Program (TQRP), aside from being a mouthful, is an example of an extraordinary program that supports minority teachers who are new to the teaching profession. I had the privilege of speaking to the TQRP participants during their yearly institute in June in Houston,Texas. I spoke about teacher coaching, teacher support, and high-impact professional development. This visit to Houston helped me catch a glimpse of what it looks like to surround educators of color with robust and sustained support. Program participants, who serve students across the country, worked on practicums, lesson planning, exploring the Common Core, and preparing for National Board Certification.
The TQRP Summer Institute is held exclusively for program fellows and it is described this way:
This intense, 12-day professional development and hands-on training will better equip our Program Fellows with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully enter a competitive and challenging teaching environment. It also helps our new teachers further develop their pedagogical skills, as well as work to acquire the skills needed to become teacher leaders on their campuses and beyond.
One TQRP participant, Chris Rogers, explained his experience to me below:
My mother graduated from Cheyney State University, as did many other members of my extended family. When I had the chance to join Cheyney’s Call Me MISTER program on my way to a master’s degree in teaching, I rejoiced at the opportunity to join the long list of highly influential and community-loved black educators who made their way from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) all across this country into the classroom. While my studies eventually took me to the University of Pennsylvania, I always look back at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Teacher Quality & Retention Program with fond memories of my colleagues and I sharing our passion to lead young people.
We all came from different types of experiences, something easily missed by those outside of HBCUs, and yet we found countless similarities. A striking commonality was the way in which we have all resisted legacies of racism still plaguing America. As a black, male educator, knowing that we represent such a small number of working educators in the classroom, going to a conference with more than 30 black males gave us the opportunity to have our experience centered. That is something that I have found only the TQRP fellowship could provide.
Research suggests that the achievement of minority students is positively impacted when those students are taught by minority teachers. Meanwhile, we know that only 7 percent of educators are black. TQRP is critical program that can help boost the amount of minority educators who enter and remain in the profession. Moreover, such programs can help improve student achievement. Hopefully TQRP, and programs like it, continue to scale and proliferate for the benefit of our minority students who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this growth.
For more from Will Morris, visit @edconnective on Twitter.