CHICOPEE — Chicopee Public Schools were recently awarded a Teacher Diversification Grant for $30,429.
The pilot grant program supports local School Department efforts to strengthen and diversify existing teacher recruitment and retention programs through federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.

Chicopee Public Schools Grants Administrator Kris Theriault discussed the grant with Reminder Publishing.
Chicopee Public Schools’ plan is to use the Teacher Diversification Pilot Program grant funds to expand current initiatives that aim to increase interest in teaching careers among underrepresented groups.

“By identifying interested students early and nurturing this interest, Chicopee hopes to create a consistent pipeline of potential future educators,” Theriault said.

Grant funds may be used to support the following educator recruitment and retention programs: high school education pathway, financial incentives, financial assistance and school culture support.

Theriault added that the grant will enable targeted outreach to potential candidates for the program.

He said, “For high school students, the grant not only supports academic progress through the educator pathways program but also fosters stronger connections with educators and even partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, HBCUs. The vision is for a program where virtual mentorship and networking with current college students and educators of color in the field are integrated into the student educator pathway experience.”

Massachusetts Education-to-Career Research and Data hub showed the state of educator racial diversity in Massachusetts.

The racially and ethnically diverse student population is increasing quicker than the racially and ethnically diverse educators and administration.

The data showed the Massachusetts students are diversifying faster than teacher workforce with the percentage of students of color increasing from 32.9% to 45.7% from 2011 to 2023.

During that same time, teachers of color have only increased from 7% to 10.6%.

The projected percentages are only expected to increase with percentages rising until 2030.

The percentage of new teachers of color in 2012 was 10% that number has increased to 18% in 2023.

The data said that increasing teacher diversity has benefits for all students including higher academic achievement, fewer discipline issues and a more inclusive school climate.

It also said that teachers of color are still more likely to leave teaching than white teachers, so initiatives that ensure educators from diverse backgrounds feel supported, valued, and empowered within their educational communities can help.

Theriault expanded on discussing the purpose of the grant.

He said, “Ultimately, the grant’s funding aims to enrich the existing educator pathway at Chicopee High School and make it more supportive, interactive, and directly tied to real-world educational environments. This is crucial for building a more diverse and robust teaching workforce that mirrors the rich diversity of the student body.”

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