Part 2: Recruiting and Retaining Underrepresented Students into Education
The first idea generated for recruitment from the literature review was to develop a dual enrollment program. This was probably one of my favorite ideas because it involved a planning process that included various stakeholders, such as:
- Baltimore County Public Schools’ Human Resources
- College of Education Recruitment Committee
- Towson Learning Network (office at Towson University that helps facilitate off-campus collaborations)
- Towson University Registrar’s Office
- Bilingual faculty
Together we discussed what schools were participating in the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) in areas that had more underrepresented students. TAM schools provide students interested in becoming teachers with some courses for dual enrollment credit that are related to education. We focused on those schools as it seemed to be best, since they already had students interested in teaching. We were able to invite students from five different schools, which yielded a group with students from various backgrounds. Moreover, the county provided them with transportation.
The TU Teacher Scholars Summer Institute free program was four days long, provided 1 dual enrollment credit for the course we developed called Exploring Careers in Education, and included visits:
- from faculty who shared their pathways in education,
- to different establishments around campus (such as a to the childcare center where the high school students assisted children with a science lesson),
- to the library to learn about social justice and equity books they could use with their future students,
- from our local WBAL-TV news as well as Baltimore County Public Schools’ media, and - Partnerships for Greater Baltimore office).
- to our University Union for an “all you can eat” lunch (thanks to funding from the Baltimore-Towson University - Partnerships for Greater Baltimore office).
The final day concluded with an invitation to parents/caregivers to showcase work the students had completed, talk about applying to the university/financial aid, learn about applying to teach in their county, and take pictures with our mascot. We were worried we wouldn’t get people to come for the family night because that would require students to come back to campus after having already gone home on a bus. However, we had a full house with parents, caregivers, siblings, and even some cousins come along, which was great!
This year we were expanding the program to Baltimore City, Howard County, and the Archdiocese of Baltimore schools; but, as a result of COVID-19 we had to cancel it. We are inviting students that applied to our fall virtual university open house, with a special program for them. Moreover, we hope to have the program face-to-face next summer, and if not it will be virtual.
Do you have a “grow your own” program? I would love to hear about your program. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you have any questions, let me know.
Dr. Gilda Martinez-Alba is the Assistant Dean in the College of Education at Towson University, in Towson, Maryland. Her research revolves around literacy, technology, English learners, and recruiting/retaining underrepresented students into teaching.