Speaking to hundreds of students at Harding High School in Bridgeport today, Governor Ned Lamont encouraged his audience to pursue a career in teaching and be role models for the next generation of students.
“I want to make sure people know teaching is the most valuable profession in the world,” said Lamont.
A bill the governor has introduced aims to help shrink the gap between the percentage of students of color in the state and the percentage of teachers of color. Currently over 40 percent of the state’s public school students are people of color while less than 10 percent of the teaching force identifies that way.
Bridgeport is one of the districts with the highest percentage of teachers of color in the state at 26 percent, Bridgeport Education Association President Gary Peluchette shared with Lamont.
To recruit more young people to the teaching profession, Lamont’s bill calls for expanding mortgage assistance and student loan forgiveness programs to more teachers.
“We support proposals that promote innovative approaches to the recruitment and retention of teachers of color in Connecticut,” said CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas. “CEA is excited about the
opportunity to share the work we have been doing toward this goal and to engage in the development of additional innovative strategies.”
On behalf of CEA, Nicholas recently applied for, and won, a grant to duplicate a successful “Grow Your Own” minority teacher recruitment program in more school districts. The model in the grant is based on West Hartford’s “Future Educators of Diversity Club,” headed by CEA member, Dr. Lara White. Through partnerships with teacher preparation institutions, the program will help connect high school students to early college credit courses in foundations of education.
Lamont said that he saw first hand the positive impact teachers have in the lives of their students when he volunteered at Harding High nearly 20 years ago.
“I love coming back,” he said. “I believe in schools like this, great community schools.”
Harding senior Kamrun Nahar said she has been deeply inspired by her social studies teacher, Daniel Kwet.
“Mr. Kwet has a deep passion for the subject he teaches, and he has made me more curious about the world,” Nahar said. “His ability to build caring relationships with his students is one of his special qualities—he is one of the many people who have inspired me to believe education has the power to reshape a student’s life.”