Martinez Fellowship Cohort 11 gets candid about why they teach
Recently, TAF inducted Cohort 11 to the Martinez Fellowship, signifying eleven years since the program was founded. The Fellowship aims to recruit and retain more teachers of color to Washington State public schools and is open to educators of color pursuing their Master’s in Education at one of TAF’s partner universities. After being selected through an application and interview process, Fellows receive early-career coaching, professional development through seminars and workshops, and an opportunity to use elements of the STEMbyTAF model. Additionally, Fellows attend a yearly three-day summer retreat at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island, WA.
When it comes to providing support to teachers of color, sometimes questions arise around the need to provide attention to teachers of color. After all, aren’t all teachers in need of support? While it’s true that all teachers face some degree of challenges by choosing a career in education, the challenges for teachers of color present themselves in varying and often times unrecognizable ways.
Teachers of color often take on unassigned yet assumed roles because they are, well … teachers of color. From counselor to mediator to family liaison and more, teachers find themselves being a bridge of understanding. As one of the few educators of color in their school, it becomes almost a responsibility to act on behalf of students of color, they become the experts on handling certain issues and spokesperson when needed. For this reason, it is necessary for teachers to have access to a community of shared experiences, where their raw emotions, challenges, and triumphs can be shared.
We asked Cohort 11 a simple question: “What motivates you to teach?” Each Fellow offered different answers, but most were drawn from the experiences they endured as a person of color and wanting to make a difference. Read on for their responses.