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DIVERSITY IN THE CLASSROOM
DIVERSITY IN THE CLASSROOM
Wittenberg University Communications Staff
Thursday, December 12, 2019

DIVERSITY IN THE CLASSROOM
Wittenberg Celebrates Inaugural Year of Pipeline Partnership

Celebrating the inaugural year of Strengthening Ohio’s Teacher Pipeline Through Partnership, the Wittenberg/Yellow Springs Teacher Pipeline Scholars and Yellow Springs Teacher Mentors were recognized at a recent dinner at the Bayley Alumni House. 

This project exists to identify and develop students interested in teaching who come from underrepresented groups with a goal of increasing the number of teachers from underrepresented groups in the nation’s schools. The project was made possible thanks to $20,000 in seed funding from the Strengthening Ohio’s Teacher Pipeline Through Partnership grant program, administered through the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).

Wittenberg and Yellow Springs Exempted Village School District (YSEVSD) are working collaboratively now and during the next few years to increase the number of underrepresented teachers employed by YSEVSD and the number of underrepresented students enrolled in Wittenberg’s Teacher Education Program (WTEP). Additionally, the funding provides training of both WTEP and YSEVSD faculty with regard to mentoring students from underrepresented groups.

Four first-year Wittenberg students - Erika Henry ’21 of Springfield, Ohio; Malina Hampshire ’23 of Dayton, Ohio; Lauren Hernandez ’23 of Hilliard, Ohio; and Kira Frieson ’23 of Muncie, Indiana - were selected from nine applicants to participate in the Wittenberg/Yellow Springs Teacher Pipeline Project. These four students were recognized along with their Yellow Springs teacher mentors, including Mikasa Sims, Debra Mabra, and Chris Sidner.

Two of the Pipeline Scholars, Henry and Hernandez, plan to major in early childhood and/or special education, while Hampshire plans to become a secondary social studies teacher, and Frieson plans to become an art teacher. 

“These mentors will be working with the Pipeline Scholars for the remainder of their time at Wittenberg to engage in book studies, professional mentoring, and collaborative learning opportunities,” said Wittenberg Pipeline Coordinator Brian Yontz, associate professor of education and department chair at Wittenberg University. “This dinner also recognized Erykah Andrews ’20 (Reynoldsburg, Ohio) and Saqqara Goins ’21 (Cincinnati, Ohio) as lead visionaries of the project. Andrews and Goins provided much of the vision for the mentoring focus of the project. Diversifying the pipeline of educators poised to take on positions in area schools and beyond is essential if we are to fully achieve equity and provide an effective learning environment for all students – one with authentic representation of the student population at the core.”

Yontz and John Gudgel, YSEVSD Pipeline coordinator, hosted the dinner. Other attendees included Michelle Mattson, Wittenberg provost; Terri Holden, YSEVSD superintendent; and Jack Hatert and Matt Housh, YSEVSD principals.

Research conducted for the funded grant proposal affirms the power of such diversity in the classroom. Additionally, researchers at the University of Connecticut, Johns Hopkins University, American University, and the University of California-Davis recently found that “black students who’d had just one black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college – and those who’d had two were 32 percent more likely.” Their findings were published in a working paper titled “The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers” from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Applications for next year’s class of Pipeline Scholars will open during the summer of 2020, with the project focusing especially on Wittenberg students from the class of 2024.