Black Student Union Aims to Recruit More Minority Teachers to Apply for District Positions

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Black Student Union members meet in the Steiner Center at Wauwatosa West.

Taniya Dula

Tosa West Junior Miles Coppage went to Eisenhower Elementary, Whitman Middle School and Wauwatosa West. In those 11 years, Coppage had just one minority teacher.

“I think that it’s been a real detriment to my education. Because when you see someone who looks more like you, or in my case, the other side of you, I feel like it allows you to be more comfortable with your education. And when you’re more comfortable, you learn more efficiently, and you learn better.”

Coppage and other students in Wauwatosa are trying to get more minority teachers in the Wauwatosa School District.

Students members of the Wauwatosa West Black Student Union and Black Student Union clubs at Whitman, Longfellow and Tosa East are working to recruit more minority teachers to apply to available teaching positions in the school district.

Students worked together to produce and share a video to encourage minority candidates to apply.

“We are desperate to have more minority teachers. And we are desperate for that new perspective. Because it has been Same old, same old, for too long,” said Junior Layla Allen.

7th grade Longfellow English teacher Hanna Weinberg-Kinsey helped coordinate the students, but the effort has been student led.

“Two amazing Tosa West leaders, Layla Allen and Miles Coppage, ended up stepping up and taking reins of the project,” said Weinberg-Kinsey. “I just started the zoom meeting and helped Longfellow’s kids record afterward.”

Allen and Coppage led the discussion among all students in the district, set the expectations for student’s recordings and provided model responses for students to follow. Allen edited the video.

“As a teacher, this is my dream: to provide an opportunity and a spark and see kids run with it and succeed,” said Weinberg-Kinsey.

Weinberg-Kinsey is part of the Wauwatosa School District “Teacher Ambassador” group. This group of teachers schools around the district work to recruit teachers of color and to make them welcome in our district once they are hired.

Weinberg-Kinsey understands the power teachers can have in the classroom.

“I know how influential my role as a teacher can be and because I value people of color so much, I want any current barriers to the influential role of teachers to be gone. I want more teachers of color.”

Although students and teachers hope the effort results in more minority teachers applying and being hired by the school district.

It has been previously been reported that although the Wauwatosa School District has been actively seeking to recruit and hire more minority teachers, all schools seeking to recruit minority teachers faces a lack of minority candidates.

Nevertheless, Junior Layla Allen believes that having a teacher that looks like you can have a positive impact on the students’ learning experience and comfort in the classroom. She believes having more teachers of color will help students.

“If you have someone who fills a position that you’re constantly around everyday like a teacher that looks like you, it is more empowering for you to be yourself, especially if the teacher is able to be themselves.”