For 10 years — the first decade I was in school — all my teachers were white women.
As a Mexican-American kid, I didn’t get the chance to have a man of color as a teacher until high school. Going into my senior year, I like how diverse my teachers are now, but I wish I’d had the same experience when I was younger.
When I think about why it matters to have a teacher I can relate to, I think back to fifth grade. A classmate said to me,
“Mexicans are illegal—they cross the border every day! How about you, did you cross the border?”
This bothered me. So, after class, I asked the teacher for help. But all she said was, “That’s OK, he was just playing.”
My high school makes a big deal out of the whole “building relationships” thing. To my teachers and everyone else at the school, relationships are just as important as academics. At first, it was hard to get used to, but eventually, it started making sense to me. I’m in an all-male mentorship group led by two African-American men who openly share about their struggles growing up in New York, and give us advice in any area of life — including what it means to appreciate our cultures. This is one of the things I like most about my school.
Having men of color I can look up to and model myself after is a big part of why I have no doubt I’ll make it to college — and eventually be able to give other kids the type of help my mentors have given me. I know where I’m needed, and that’s where I’m headed.
Read the full article about teacher diversity by Jose Romero at Chalkbeat.
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