Center for Future Educators introduces high schoolers to the profession
As one of the most diverse states in the nation, New Jersey needs a teaching workforce that mirrors its rich diversity. While enrollment data from the New Jersey Department of Education shows that just over 60% of our students identify as persons of color, less than 20% of the state’s teachers are persons of color. Our students’ multidimensional identities require us to respond to their need to feel represented in their learning spaces.
The Center for Future Educators (CFE), housed at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and supported by NJEA, is a pioneer in making this vision a reality. CFE has shown true dedication to expanding and diversifying New Jersey’s future teacher pipeline.
Navigating the educational landscape can be challenging, especially for students who might be the first in their families to attend college or enter the teaching profession. That’s why one of the primary goals of the CFE is to encourage students from varied backgrounds to consider a career in education and to mentor those who have already chosen this path.
The Future Educators Academy
CFE offers the Future Educators Academy (FEA), a weeklong residential summer program at TCNJ for high school juniors and seniors. During the FEA, high schoolers participate in individual and group learning experiences that are guided by seasoned educators. They take field trips to local institutions and gain practical experience.
For the past two summers, I have had the privilege to be a camp counselor at the FEA, where I worked alongside 25 inspiring and bright young minds. I loved witnessing their advocacy for social justice initiatives in school settings and helping them build their own vision for the future of education.
Students explored topics such the importance of LGBTQIA+ representative curricula, the implementation of social and emotional learning, and the recognition of multilingual students’ unique capabilities as linguistic capital in the classroom. Open discussions around these topics allowed campers to learn more about each other’s diverse journeys and experiences as multilingual and multicultural students. It was not long before they formed tight-knit bonds with one another and lifted each other up.
My favorite part of the week was helping the campers plan STEM lessons they would implement with elementary school students who were just learning English. Many of these elementary students had recently arrived in the U.S. from war-torn countries. I was delighted to help my group collaborate to create an inclusive and thoughtful presentation.
We crafted an ice-breaker activity that would allow their students to introduce themselves in the languages they spoke, and even included Ukrainian and Spanish subtitles throughout the presentation. During their lesson planning process, I encouraged them to reflect on their work—challenging them to think deeper—and I enjoyed seeing their creativity flourish with their passion for teaching. They set their hearts on creating an impactful lesson for their elementary school students, and without a doubt, I can say that they went above and beyond their goal.
The FEA program is an excellent opportunity for our future educators to grow an activist mindset early on and become a part of a tight-knit community. I am grateful to be able to work with CFE and share my love for education with high school students, and I would strongly urge all teachers to encourage high school students to apply for this program.
Applications for FEA open in early 2024
To be considered for FEA, students must be rising juniors or seniors, and submit two recommendation letters, a resume, and their brief response to an essay prompt. Applications will open at the beginning of 2024, but until then feel free to check out the CFE’s Instagram page @cfetcnj and contact email@example.com for more information.