Quantcast

BTC CEO, Co-founder discusses helping black teachers and students

5/23/2018, noon | Updated on 5/23/2018, noon
If you speak to Hiewet Senghor, co-founder and chief executive officer of Black Teacher Collaborative (BTC), her passion for educating ...
“I came out of a black high school in Atlanta, Georgia where teachers saw genius and beauty in black children and specifically in me.” HIEWET SENGHOR

BTC CEO, Co-founder discusses helping black teachers and students

BY LISETTE GUSHINIERE

If you speak to Hiewet Senghor, co-founder and chief executive officer of Black Teacher Collaborative (BTC), her passion for educating black children rings clear like a morning school bell.

As the nation recently took time during Teacher Appreciation Week to celebrate the impact teachers are having on the lives of their students, BTC saw it as an opportunity to shine a light on the unique relationship between black teachers and black students.

Senghor, who’s organization works to help black teachers succeed, draws from her own personal experiences and the teachers who helped her.

“I came out of a black high school in Atlanta, Georgia where teachers saw genius and beauty in black children and specifically in me,” she said.

“They saw me, fostered my unique voice, and encouraged my interest. When I had to confront the realities of America’s ongoing struggle with race, they masterfully guided me through those moments in a way that was honest, candid, but also empowering.”

By holding her to an “enormously high standard” while nurturing and protecting her development all at the same time, Senghor said her teachers were a critical part of her “village.”

“They modeled dignity, discipline, and service and reinforced the messages, values, and beliefs of my family and by extension, affirmed and validated my identity,” she said. “The teachers helped me move into the world fully confident in my ability to perform at any level.”

Today, Senghor uses those experiences to support other black teachers and black students through BTC, an organization she founded along with Dr. Howard Fuller, a civil rights activist and education reform advocate.

The mission of BTC is to engage, develop, and support a collective of black educators who will ensure black children achieve at high levels academically. Currently in its pilot stage, BTC offers a three-year fellowship program that involves training sessions, one-on-one coaching, blended-learning models, and the completion of a capstone project.

BTC prepares black teachers to leverage Shared Racial Identity Learning Environments (SRILE™) to transform their schools. SRILE™ schools are those in which the black student population is 85 percent or more and the black teachers represent 65 percent or more of the teaching staff.

Senghor says one of the challenges facing the educational system is the ability to retain black teachers. Black teachers are more often than not serving in our nation’s, “most under resourced and high needs schools,” she said. Many of the challenges that schools confront are often, “tied to issues of institutionalized racism and historic inequity,” she added. However, BTC’s goal is to help continue diversifying America’s teaching force while ensuring black teachers are equipped with the tools and insights they need to best serve their students.

Senghor adds, “the absence of black teachers will make it ever more challenging to create an educational experience that is relevant and meaningful for black children.,” she stated.

“Black teachers being engaged at both the classroom and innovation level is necessary for black values, beliefs, and culture to be a part of the educational experience of black children.”

Funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and New Profit, BTC currently works with 50 teachers serving over 2,700 children in K-12 partner schools in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, but Senghor says the organization is working to expand its reach.

“We hope to launch a series of professional development workshops and community building conversations in a few additional cities during the 2018-19 academic year that will be available for teachers outside of the Fellowship. In addition, we are working on establishing an online portal to allow engagement with a larger community,” she said. To learn more, visit (www.blackteachercollaborative.org),