As part of an initiative aimed at recruiting teachers who represent the students they serve, Dallas ISD has hired 12 Black male professionals and put them on the path toward becoming licensed teachers who will lead classrooms next semester.
The Adjunct Teacher Dallas Residency Program is designed to recruit Black male teachers to serve in high-priority campuses. Black men interested in potentially applying to the program are encouraged to email their resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Evidence shows that Black students who have at least one Black educator in elementary school are more likely to graduate from high school, college and be career-ready,” said John Vega, deputy chief of Dallas ISD’s Human Capital Management (HCM). “Having someone who looks like you to teach you has a great impact on a student’s future success. We believe that the more teachers that we can get in front of our students that look like them, the more successful the students will be.”
The teacher residency program is in response to the resolution on the Commitment of Dallas ISD to Black Students and Black Lives. In a special called board meeting in June, the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to identify high-need issues and reconvene with Superintendent Michael Hinojosa within 30 days to begin to take actions to achieve measurable improvements for Black students in Dallas ISD over the next year.
Jairus McClinton is one of the inductees of the first cohort who works as an adjunct teacher in Lincoln High School and Humanities/Communications Magnet. He graduated with a degree in Music Performance and a minor in Literature from Alcorn State University and is currently teaching Pre-AP English at the early college high school.
McClinton was already working as a teacher assistant for a special education program in Memphis, Tennessee. His love for teaching inspired him to move to Dallas and apply for the adjunct teacher residency. He aims to be a relatable role model and wants his students to understand that they too can build a career and work as professionals in any field.
As a first-year teacher, he hopes that his affinity for music, his knowledge of literature and his cultural background will inspire his students to see a sea of possibilities ahead.
“My goal is for my students to understand that I am a genuine individual who actually cares about their success and about the decisions that they make,” McClinton said. “I want them to come to me, whether they are Black, White, or Hispanic; whoever you are. I want to be that teacher that they point to and say ‘that is my favorite teacher, right there, because I can talk to him and be real with him about my situation.”
The 12 members of this initial cohort have been assigned a campus this semester–most of them are serving in elementary schools–where they are receiving pedagogy instruction and practical classroom experience. The Racial Equity Office is training the adjunct teachers on understanding and addressing equity issues and empathizing and supporting their students’ cultural and social and emotional needs.
Dallas ISD is compensating the future educators as full-time employees and adjunct teachers throughout their residency until the spring, when they will return to their campus as certified teachers.
“This is an aggressive approach to putting Black male teachers in front of our black students, particularly our African American young boys, who we have learned (through data) are prone to higher rates of out-of-school suspensions, and lower levels of academic achievement. In many instances we’ve missed opportunities to differentiate instruction by teaching our students the way they learn rather than using a one size fits all instructional approach,” said Sharon Quinn, deputy chief of the Racial Equity Office (REO). “Not only will this first cohort begin to fill the void of male teachers in our elementary schools, it will also place positive, Black male role models in front of our students. When they see a well-spoken, well dressed, successful African American male teacher who is with them every day, demonstrating care for the academic, social, and emotional needs, the impact will be great and far reaching. They will see someone who is not only interested in their mind, but also in their future wellbeing.”
HCM is working closely with REO to provide Cultural Intelligence training to the adjunct teachers. The 12 members of the first cohort will receive monthly professional development on topics such as dismantling racism, talking to students about not being silent and helping kids to express what they feel if they have encountered any types of inequities in their life.
“We’re wanting the teachers to be aware that many students may not have gotten off to a great start and may not have the best academic or financial background. However, their commitment to be a classroom teacher can play a significant role in changing their lives’ trajectory,” Quinn said. “Being aware of the cultural background and challenges faced by your students fosters a sense of empathy and pride. Instead of feeling sorry for them, you put yourself in their place and teach them as though they are your very own. You teach with their future in mind. The pride that you feel when you see them responding to your presence and pedagogy are irreplaceable. When our students see that you care for them and are willing to teach them with tough love and a tender heart, they can and will thrive and live up to their potential.
REO plans to implement Cultural Intelligence training to all educators and central staff.
Career transitioners who want to become teachers
While the Adjunct Teacher Dallas Residency Program is a new initiative, HCM has been recruiting professionals to lead district classrooms for years.
The district’s Alternative Certification Program is a highly successful program that trains college graduates who studied a career outside of teaching to follow their passion and lead a classroom.
Director of Alternative Certification Program Torey Willis leads this effort and is also overseeing the new residence program. Her main goal is to ensure that every individual who wants to transition into education is prepared for their first year as a Dallas ISD teacher. She was surprised when in less than five months, more than 500 applicants showed interest in the residency program.
“We wanted to ensure that our initial induction is protected. We want to make sure that all of our systems are structured, and we want to look at their transition to full-time teacher,” Willis said. “We were looking for applicants who could show perseverance. We were looking for someone who could transition into the profession being an adjunct teacher, and paralleling with the Alternative Certification Program, and being able to balance the job requirements and also the day-to-day functionality that they’re responsible for. We were also looking for candidates who could understand the concept of applying theory into practice.”
Pricilla Vega, HCM’s manager of recruitment was one of the project managers. She was mainly in charge of promoting the application, interviewing the candidates, pairing them with their mentor-teachers and ensuring they had all the tools to succeed in the classroom, among other tasks.
Since the school year started on Sept. 8th, Pricilla has received very positive feedback from principals regarding the 12 soon-to-be teachers who are fighting day-to-day to serve our students. Now, she continues to extend support to the 12 teachers, so that they are successful in the classroom and remain teaching for Dallas ISD.
“To me, the best part is that we’re ensuring that we’re establishing a diverse workforce that is going to positively and significantly contribute to the overall success of our students,” Pricilla Vega said. “They need more positive role models, and the research is there to show us that this initiative will help our students be more successful. It gives me excitement to know that we’re selecting high-quality individuals who will impact so many lives.”