Like many school divisions throughout the country, Chesterfield County Public Schools has been challenged to keep pace with the growing diversity of its student body. With more than half of the student population identifying as other than white, Chesterfield County Public Schools is considered a “majority-minority” school division. The diversity of division staff, however, does not reflect this, mirroring instead a nationwide shortage of teachers of color.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there is chronic under-representation of teachers of color in U.S. schools compared to the existing (and growing) population of students of color:
NCES has also reported that there is an over-representation of white teachers in U.S. schools compared to the existing population of white students:
Chesterfield County Public Schools’ staffing data aligns with national data, not that of its local community.
There are many contributing factors that impact the disparity. Fewer students of color enter the teacher pipeline after high school, and those who do graduate with degrees in education often seek opportunities with school divisions whose staff is more diverse. Even when candidates choose school divisions that are less diverse, they are less likely to stay deep into their careers.
“The face of Chesterfield County Public Schools has changed, and it’s imperative that we keep up with that change by seeing that our educator workforce reflects the community we serve,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said. “Our strategic plan purposefully includes that by 2025, our licensed educators will reflect the student demographic population. This was included because we understand and value the impact that teachers of color have on academic performance, inclusion and postsecondary success for all students.”
Chesterfield County Public Schools is committed to finding innovative solutions to this imbalance at the local level. The Office of Equity and the Office of Family and Community Engagement have been researching and collaborating with the school division’s Human Resources team, the Equity Advisory Committee and other stakeholders to develop a creative solution, Mirror Me.
Mirror Me is part of the division’s overall commitment to ensuring that its schools are staffed with a kaleidoscope of strong educators, bringing their talents and individuality to students in a way that celebrates the diversity of the Chesterfield community. A diverse, representative teacher workforce benefits everyone.
Designed to elevate high school and college students of color, Mirror Me identifies students with the aptitude and mindset for teaching. By connecting with students within its own schools, the division will have the opportunity to strengthen the teacher workforce, increasing the number of diverse candidates who return to serve their own community.
Selected students will receive support through mentoring programs, financial incentives throughout their undergraduate experience and opportunities for employment after college. Upon graduation, they will be guaranteed a teaching contract with Chesterfield County Public Schools.
Working with local universities and community partners, Chesterfield County Public Schools is committed to creating a thriving, diverse workforce that represents all of its students. It is past time that our teachers mirror the students in our classrooms.