Watson Chronicle

WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Features

PDS to Launch Educators of Color Network

Monday, November 01, 2021

The Watson College Professional Development System will launch an Educators of Color Network in January. PDS Director Somer Lewis and D.C. Virgo Principal Sabrina Hill-Black are leading the initiative, which seeks to provide opportunities for educators in Watson’s 12-district PDS system to work together to recruit and retain teachers of color.

The initiative follows the release of the DRIVE Task Force Report which includes recommendations on ways to increase educator diversity in order to enhance the success of North Carolina’s students, educators and schools. Governor Cooper convened the DRIVE Task Force in 2020 to address two core issues: a growing disparity in the representation of teachers of color relative to the students they teach, and the high rate of teachers of color leaving the profession.

To start, Lewis and Hill-Black brought together a core group of educators to brainstorm ideas. Using Simon Sinek’s The Golden Circle model, they discussed why, how and what a network could do to make a significant impact.

“Defining the ‘why’ was the easy part,” Lewis said. “There is significant research that shows that diverse communities of teachers are essential for the success of diverse communities of learners, and the education profession is currently not very diverse. Data in the DRIVE report shows that 53 percent of North Carolina’s K-12 students are nonwhite, but only 21 percent of educators are people of color.”

Over the summer and fall, a design team comprised of 25 educators from six PDS school districts, met with Lewis and Hill-Black to help set a framework for the EOC network. Their broad goals are to advocate for the teaching profession, envision and facilitate activities to build relationships with students of color who may have an interest in teaching, and to help teachers build strong connections to each other through affinity groups, engagement opportunities and professional development events.

“While it is important for all teachers to have opportunities for professional connections, collaboration among educators of color is vital to not only their success but also their students,” Hill-Black said. “Networking will create undeniable access necessary for the ultimate success of teachers across the state thus leading to successful outcomes for the children they impact.”

PDS partnership teachers, school administrators, retired educators, WCE faculty members, current Watson students and others with an interest in the group’s core objectives are invited to participate in the EOC Network. Planned activities may include quarterly meetings, events and working groups aligned around the core goals of connection, recruitment, retention and advocating for the profession.

We envision some structured planning meetings and events as we launch the EOC Network,” Lewis said. “Eventually, we hope the network will help build connections across schools and districts that lead to a wide range of initiatives. Our ultimate goal is to serve as a conduit and connector between groups working toward the common goal of increased diversity in the teacher workforce.”

Individuals interested in participating in the PDS Educators of Color Network are invited to complete a brief survey, sharing your contact information and preferred method of attendance at upcoming meetings. The first meeting of 2022 is scheduled for Tuesday, January 25, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. in the Education Building. A virtual option will be available. Details will be shared soon via email for individuals who complete the survey, and in PDS Friday updates and on Watson's social media.