Recruitment & Retention

How to Recruit and Retain Bilingual Teachers and Men of Color

By Alyson Klein — May 26, 2023 2 min read
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No school district has completely cracked the code on recruiting and retaining high quality educators of color.

But two Education Week 2023 Leaders to Learn From who have made significant headway on that vital priority offered their advice at Education Week’s leadership symposium earlier this month, held May 10-12 in Washington, D.C.

Natalie Griffin, director of special programs for the 3,000-student Mineral Wells district in Texas, has more than doubled the number of bilingual educators working in the district, as well as revamped the way Mineral Wells educates English learners.

Her existing teachers have become some of her best recruiters, she said. “They help me network and they’re bringing their friends or their families,” and encouraging them to teach in the district.

And for retention, she said, it helps to develop personal relationships with teachers.

“I think it is about valuing them, as a person, them as a family member,” Griffin said during a May 11 panel discussion at the event. “So, if I hear there’s something coming up, say a wedding, operation, whatever, I’ll put it on my calendar, and I make sure that I give them a phone call or a text and say, ‘oh, by the way, I remember you had this coming up. How are things going?’ It’s so simple, but it means a ton to them.”

Chimere Stephens, the senior director of diversity recruitment and NYC Men Teach for New York City public schools, has helped lead an effort to nearly double the percentage of male teachers of color in the nation’s largest school district over the past eight years, from 8.5 percent in 2015 to 15 percent last year.

He’s designed a fellowship that allows college students interested in teaching to spend the summer working in New York City public schools summer programs. They can then go back and serve as recruiters for the district at their colleges.

“It also allows us to extend our recruitment reach because now we have an extension of our recruitment team on, let’s say, 30 campuses across the country,” said Stephens, who was also on the panel. “We ask them to hold one event in the fall [at their colleges], one event in the spring, and all we have to do is pay them in swag and maybe a little stipend.”

And when it comes to early career teachers, “you can’t talk about recruitment without talking about retention,” Stephens said.

His office connects new teachers with a mentor, typically another man of color whom they may feel more comfortable talking to than their school-appointed mentor. He thinks of this as social-emotional learning for teachers.

“We create a space for educators to be able to showcase their work amongst their peers and then also throughout the district as well,” Stephens said.

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