The nation recently celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week to recognize the impact of teachers. One organization, Black Teacher Collaborative (BTC) (www.blackteachercollaborative.org), highlights the impact of not just teachers, but Black teachers specifically, and how they contribute to the lives of Black children and communities every single day. Founded by Hiewet Senghor, a leading voice in supporting educators of color and pioneering programs that serve them, and Dr. Howard Fuller, civil rights activist and education reform advocate, the mission of BTC is to engage, develop, and support a collective of Black educators who will ensure Black children achieve at high levels academically.
Studies have shown that by having just one Black teacher, the probability of Black students dropping out of school decreases considerably. Significant attention has been placed on the recruitment of Black teachers however those efforts are often hampered by low retention rates. Black Teacher Collaborative wants to help continue diversifying America’s teaching force but to ensure those teachers are equipped with the tools and insights they need to best serve their students. Through a three-year fellowship program that involves training sessions, one-on-one coaching, blended-learning models, and the completion of a capstone project, BTC prepares Black teachers to leverage Shared Racial Identity Learning Environments (SRILE™) to transform their schools. SRILE™ schools are those in which the Black student population is 85 percent or more and the Black teachers represent 65 percent or more of the teaching staff.
“It is often assumed that Black teachers have the skills, mindsets, and knowledge to actualize the potential benefits of the Black schools they are often placed in without any deliberate training and support,” says Hiewet Senghor, founder and CEO of BTC. “Black Teacher Collaborative changes that by preparing Black teachers to actualize a new model for impact and efficacy. Our BTC Fellows commit to leveraging the strength of the African-American identity, continuously improving their practice, and utilizing 21st-century learning tools to fuel transformation of students, schools, and communities. BTC seeks to define and build Black teacher excellence to drive academic achievement and positive life outcomes for Black children – our children.”
Black Teacher Collaborative currently works with 50 teachers serving over 2,700 children in K-12 partner schools in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and New Profit have provided funding for this important work.