TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A new program in Tucson Unified School District is aiming to get more teachers of color into the field — starting with juniors and seniors in high school.
Mariel Ponce is a junior at Pueblo High School and an aspiring teacher.
“I just love kids,” Ponce said. “I think they’re my life.”
She’s not only one of the oldest kids in her family, but she will be the first to graduate high school and go to college.
“I want to inspire my younger siblings,” said Ponce.
She also wants to inspire younger minds. Wednesday, she got the chance to start her journey to doing just that. The new Each One, Teach One program kicked off.
“This program seeks to grow and train up critically conscious, multilingual teachers of color,” said J. Eik, a graduate student at the University of Arizona and teacher of Each One, Teach One.
Offered at Pueblo High School and Cholla High School this year, the idea is that students from the community will get a taste of teaching with real-life classroom experience and stay in their community. They spend two days a week learning about the teaching industry and then will get to apply that in area elementary schools, teaching lessons and following real teachers.
“We have great disparities in our racial and linguistic representation between students and teachers,” Eik said.
At TUSD, more than 60 percent of teachers are white or European American, compared to 20 percent of students. However, more than 60 percent of students are Hispanic, but just under 30 percent of teachers are.
These are more than just stats and numbers to Ponce.
“There are children who see a teacher and think, ‘well I can’t be that...I’m not this race or this ethnicity,’ and it’s like no you can be, you can be anything you want to be,” Ponce said.
Fifteen students will be able to participate in Each One, Teach One this year and the program will cost about $15,000 for five years.
“To see their teacher who is African American, Mexican, Caucasian, you know any skin color that really does matter,” Ponce said.