Growing up in a hollow (pronounced “holler”) in southeastern Kentucky, I never considered if I I was getting equitable access to effective, experienced, and diverse educators. In fact, most of my teachers were a lot like me: white, low/middle class, hillbillies.
When I came to Eastern Kentucky University for my undergraduate studies, my exposure to a more diverse pool of educators played a huge role in who I am today by providing unique experiences that required collaboration with peers and instructors of very different backgrounds.
I saw first-hand how a poor, white student from rural Kentucky could benefit from a well educated professor from Kenya in a class filled with peers from all walks of life. Collaboration, communication, and creativity thrived in such classroom environments.
If our state and nation’s public schools offered all of our students diverse, well educated, and well trained teachers, the student experience would be transformed. A student from a “holler” could see that there’s more to the world than the ride to and from the school on a big, yellow school bus.
Perspectives would be broadened and empathy could be easily encouraged, not only among students, but also among colleagues. Tolerance and understanding will never be outdated and will never be replaced by the latest and greatest pedagogical silver bullet. The American Dream will never be fully realized until we embrace and encourage the diversity that makes us the greatest nation in the world.
Equitable access to effective, experienced, and diverse educators will provide the backdrop to achieving the elusive American Dream and will help shrink the ever widening achievement gap found in our schools today.
Travis Marcum teaches middle grades language arts and social studies at Model Laboratory School and EDF 204: Emerging Technology in Education at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. He graduated from EKU with a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades Education (English/Social Studies) and obtained a Master’s degree from the University of the Cumberlands in Teacher Leadership. He’s currently in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies EdD program at EKU. He lives in Richmond, Kentucky with his wife, Karmen and his kids, Hudson and Mila. This post originally appeared on Travis’ website, MyKillerBlog.