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NKU Will Use Grant Funds to Address Shortages of Diverse Teachers

Northern Kentucky University is facilitating the emergency certification of diverse educators through the use of a $100,000 grant, awarded by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). NKU will also spend $100,000 of its own.

NKU is partnering with Erlanger/Elsmere, Newport and Covington Independent school districts, which have the most diverse student populations in the region. The grant will focus on middle and high school teachers.

"Diversity in schools has a critical impact on learners’ attitudes, achievement and motivation," said Ginni Fair, College of Education Dean. “Our goal is to create systems and resources that can be sustainable, replicable and that have a long-term impact not only for students, but for educators as well.”

The grant will accomplish three goals: address an immediate need for diverse educators in the workforce, initiate and steward a pipeline of diverse educators, and empower all educators to be culturally proficient and advocates for equity. NKU plans to support up to 10 emergency certified middle or high school teachers, using the Masters of Arts in Teaching pathway. Teachers will be employed in their respective school districts from 2022 to 2025 and will complete the master’s program by summer 2024.

A CPE taskforce found early field experiences for potential educators sparked interest in the profession, while barriers to recruitment and retention of diverse educators included lack of mentoring and community building, admission criteria, and cost. Leveraging grant funds, NKU will use scholarships, intentional recruitment, support networks for teachers of color, and recurring diversity training to help future educators overcome these challenges.

“Creating an inclusive environment in Kentucky classrooms is critical to building a diverse and culturally competent workforce, and that starts with our educators,” said Aaron Thompson, CPE President. “Increasing the number of teachers from underrepresented groups, as part of our work to eliminate disparities in education, will strengthen our communities and economy.”

NKU will use its partnership with the school districts and within its colleges to recruit students into its College of Education while creating a microcredential that emphasizes the importance of diversity in the classroom.

-Staff report