A new wave.
This month, on Wednesday, June 14th, a new cohort was inducted into TAF’s Martinez Fellowship. The program, which provides professional and personal development support, training and scholarship aid for minority teachers seeking Master’s degrees, aims to solve one blaring problem in Washington state’s public schools – the vast contrast of representation from teachers of color compared to students of color.
The current situation.
Currently, under 10% of educators working in Washington’s schools are of color. Compare this number to the 43% population of minority students which continues to grow larger every year. The Martinez Fellowship aims to improve the retention and recruitment of teachers of color within Washington state so that all students have the chance to experience teacher diversity during their learning journey. Not only does this promote cultural understanding and awareness among all students, but specifically for minority students, representation from teachers sharing a similar background helps to validate identities and perspectives.
Most teachers of color understand this fight within public schools. Luckily, through the Martinez Fellowship, our Fellows have a safe place to share common experiences and challenges of serving students within the system where they can convene and be supported.
The support starts from the beginning.
When Cohort 9, the newest wave of Fellows, gathered for their New Fellow Orientation, they were met by members of previous cohorts who welcomed them into the program family and shared experiences of the Fellowship’s impact.
Throughout the evening, the new Fellows enjoyed a dinner while receiving a full overview of the Fellowship and program expectations. They also made their participation in the program official by signing their contracts. All Fellows enter into a four-year agreement which includes a commitment to finish their Master’s in Education, teach for at least three years in Washington state after graduating and attend various seminars intended to support the Fellows in their early-career.
One of those seminars, the annual IslandWood Conference, is only two months away in mid-August. It’s a time during summer and between school years, where the new cohort will join other Martinez Fellows in a multi-day conference that will provide personal and professional development, new teaching techniques and a platform for deep discussion about the identity of a teacher of color within Washington state’s public school system.
We are so excited for what’s to come for our new Martinez Fellowship cohort and about the impact they will make in the lives of Washington state’s students.
Below are headshots of the Martinez Fellowship Cohort 9. To learn more about the Fellows, read their bios here.