By Cristina Serratore – 1851 Staff
Last spring, Associate Professor and Di- rector of Education Dr. Claudia Rinaldi was invited to speak about the Pathways to Teacher Diversity (PTD) program on New England Cable News’s (NECN) CEO Corner. Started in 2016, the pilot program hopes to diversify the pool of teaching candidates so it better reflects the increasingly diverse classrooms in American public schools today.
“Right now, across the nation, about 80 percent of teachers are white,” Rinaldi said to NECN anchor Brian Burnell in the May 1 segment. “That’s a problem when half of our population is of a minority makeup. In Massachusetts, actually, the situation’s harder. So, we have about 92 percent of teachers who are white and 40 percent of students who are minority.” Rinaldi firmly believes that students deserve to see themselves reflected in their teachers, and that having minority teachers might push more minority students into the teaching profession.
In the PTD program, minority students majoring in education at Lasell are paired up with minority students from local high schools. These high school students are mentored by our undergraduate students, primarily through online channels. By seeing a student resembling them studying education, Rinaldi’s hope is for minority high school students to view education as a path in life that is available to them.
The PTD program goes beyond encouraging minority high school students to pursue a career in education. Rinaldi acknowledges that minority students face many obstacles in applying and succeeding in college. She said, “we know that minority students have a harder time getting to college because they don’t know how to navigate the educational system. They may not have the language, the parents may not know how to do the financial letters, so a lot of these issues are ones that my students and myself come up with to be able to share with the schools and the students and the parents.”
The Lasell students involved with the program are often called upon to create videos that address various topics related to getting into or being in college, such
as financial aid, being a first generation college student or applying to college for students with disabilities on an Individualized Education Plan or 504 plan. The high school students are then directed to watch the videos in the hopes that it will provide them with some direction.
Rinaldi has high hopes for the future of the PTD program. She hopes that as minority high school students go through the program, they will be inclined to enroll in education programs and even become a mentor in the Pathways program.
“Being able to share about the Pathways to Teacher Diversity program and how we are supporting underrepresented minorities to become educators has given me a lot of pride and satisfaction,” Rinaldi said. “I know that having Lasell student leaders connect with high school students considering a teaching career will help them know what it will take to be leaders in their field and pay it forward to others.”