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    Diversifying the Seattle Public Schools Workforce
    Posted on 12/15/2018
    A teacher stands in front of a Rainier Beach board for a photo

    Diversifying the Seattle Public Schools Workforce

    Seattle Public Schools values educator diversity as an asset that promotes a dynamic, inclusive learning environment for all students. Research shows that recruitment and retention of educators rich in racial, gender, and linguistic diversity supports eliminating opportunity gaps and is an essential strategy for ensuring student success.

    The district Department of Human Resources employs a variety of strategies to recruit and retain high quality educators that reflect the diversity of the district’s student population. Highlighted within this article are just three of the many ways Seattle Public Schools seeks workforce equity.

    Recruitment Fellows Ambassadors

    When Phuong Tran was in kindergarten, she’d arrange her Barbie dolls into a classroom formation and begin to lead the lesson of the day. She can reach back in her memory as early as this to describe her desire and passion to teach. “It was always in me to teach and guide,” she says.

    After teaching for nine years and receiving her second masters, she decided to join Rainier Beach High School’s community as the head counselor.

    Tran is one of about a dozen Seattle Public Schools educators that are in the cohort of Recruitment Fellows Ambassadors, a new district program. The program seeks to diversify the workforce by centering educators of color as liaisons between the district and potential new hires.

    Tran grew up in the Central District and calls it home. In her role as counselor, she advocates for students and can relate to a lot of what students are experiencing in school and at home. As an educator, she is an ally for young people, expanding on the hope within them. “Our students have so much going on outside of school and sometimes they need a person they can depend on in order to meet whatever they need. Not just academic, but emotional social supports as well,” she shares.

    Compensated for their service, Tran and other fellows participate in the hiring process, encouraging educators to join the Seattle Public Schools community, sharing their story about why they teach in Seattle, and attending recruitment events.

    Classified to Certificated Program

    Photo of teacher in classroomIbrahim Hussein is at ease in his colorful classroom, which is adorned with encouraging posters and décor. A 2nd grade teacher at West Seattle Elementary School, he prides himself on holding his students accountable to high standards and providing them with the integral social emotional skills they need to be successful in life.

    His favorite part of teaching? “It’s that interaction with the kids and how it [learning] looks different for each student,” he shares. For Hussein, it’s all about relationships, “Getting to know them and how they work best, figuring out what their goals are and all they need to accomplish their goals. When you combine that, you see a light at the end of the tunnel, that drives you.”

    In his second year as a Seattle Public Schools teacher, Hussein took advantage of the Classified to Certified Program which enables instructional assistants to become fully certified teachers.

    With multiple university program options, he decided on the one that fit his schedule and experience best: Seattle Teacher Residency, a collaboration between the University of Washington, Seattle Education Association, and the Alliance for Education. Upon completion of the rigorous program, Hussein received a master’s degree in teaching and was placed at West Seattle Elementary School where he had been working as a bilingual instructional assistant.

    He was drawn to the profession in part because he “was working with families and staff at the school and saw there were not a lot of people that looked like me in the workforce. Gender was a gap and the reflection of my color was another gap. So, closing that gap was certainly a factor.”

    The Classified to Certificated Program supports Seattle Public Schools paraprofessional employees who are interested in becoming certificated educators in specific, targeted high-needs areas.

    Academy for Rising Educators

    An emerging opportunity for leveraging homegrown talent is the Academy for Rising Educators. The initiative is targeted at high school students in their junior and senior years who have interest in the teaching profession. With the first cohort scheduled to begin in the summer of 2019, students will have the opportunity to take courses and participate in internships to complete the necessary prerequisite requirements for a paraprofessional position in the district. Through a partnership with local Seattle colleges and the City of Seattle’s Seattle Promise scholarship, students will then be able to earn a degree and be on their way to preferred hiring in Seattle Public Schools, serving in their home communities. The program provides a direct supported pathway to the education profession for students.

    Sheila Redick, Seattle Public Schools director of HR strategy and operations shares, “Our key strategies for recruitment are really focused on what we call “grow your own” teacher pipelines.”

    The grow your own model looks inward to the expertise of individuals within the district as key potential candidates for hiring. Additionally, the model encourages the cultivation and development of new skills for staff to further their own professional growth in the workplace.

    “Building on the expertise within our district, these are promising strategies for increasing candidate diversity and providing positive outcomes for all students,” Redick says.

    The Recruitment Fellows Ambassador, Certificated to Classified, and Academy for Rising Educators programs are just a few of the strategies that the district is utilizing to have our educator workforce reflect the diversity of the student body.

    In line with School Board Policy 0030 Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity, Seattle Public School is committed to the success of every student in fostering a barrier-free environment, creating learning environments where all students can thrive.