NJEA Vice President Steve Beatty and NJEA Membership Director Jaime Valente visited with the students of the Aspiring Educators program at William Paterson University. Through a partnership with NJEA, local school districts, and a state-funded minority teacher development grant, the program, directed by the College of Education, focuses on opening doors to local high school students to consider and pursue education as a career.
This year, 18 high school students from Passaic County are working with Dr. David Fuentes, Professor of Education, as they earn college credit by taking Foundations in Multicultural Education.
As part of their clinical experience, students also work as teaching assistants in the School of Continuing and Professional Education’s Summer Youth Program.
“Programs such as these promote social mobility for our students, particularly those from ethic and racially-diverse backgrounds,” Fuentes said. “They bolster the dignity and respect of the profession to help our students recognize how they can become the change agents in their communities as future educators. By studying the social and political contexts of schooling, we are better prepared to teach other peoples’ children.”
Valente discussed NJEA’s goal to diversify the teacher pipeline. “There is such value in students being able to see folks in the front of the classroom that they can identify with,” he said. “We must move this social justice work forward. Students must see themselves in their educators.”
NJEA presented $15,000 to Dean Amy Ginsburg with a pledge of an additional $15,000 to continue their support of the program. NJEA has also invited the program’s students to attend the NJEA convention in November.
Vice President Steve Beatty pledged to continue supporting programs like Aspiring Educators.
“We need to make sure we encourage the next generation of educators to ensure New Jersey schools remains the top in the country,” Beatty said. “All the stakeholders in education must partner together to support our future colleagues in the most important and the most satisfying job in the world.”