VERMILLION, S.D. – High school students from the Sioux Falls School District visited the University of South Dakota campus last week to learn from faculty and staff about the importance of diversity in education.
The students are participating in the USD School of Education’s Culturally Responsive Teacher Pathway, a partnership with the Sioux Falls School District that aims to promote teacher diversity and cultural responsiveness in the district.
Through research, School of Education Dean Donald Easton-Brooks, Ph.D., and his colleagues have demonstrated that students of color experience greater academic success when their education includes teachers of color—a finding that suggests a need for more teacher diversity in South Dakota. While over one-third of students in the Sioux Falls School District are students of color, 98 percent of their teachers are white.
USD’s program responds to that disparity by facilitating opportunities for students interested in becoming culturally-responsive teachers.
Students in the program have opportunities to visit USD, take a dual-credit course preparing them to become teachers, receive direct support from USD advisors and earn admittance to the USD School of Education. Students who successfully complete the program will be able to student-teach in Sioux Falls and become teachers in the district.
“The Sioux Falls School District is excited for the start of the Teacher Pathway program as a ‘grow your own’ approach to introducing the rewarding career of education to our students,” said Sioux Falls School District Assistant Superintendent James Nold, Ed.D. “The partnership with USD that allows our students the opportunity to receive dual credit and visit a college campus is all part of a very important process of increasing the overall depth of our teacher applicant pool and attracting teachers of diversity to our school district.”
USD is equally enthusiastic about the partnership. “We are excited to have an opportunity to work with Sioux Falls Schools on such an important initiative, as this has a chance to enhance our community on multiple levels,” said Easton-Brooks.
The visit day on May 14 included tours of the Center for Diversity and Community, the Dakota Dome, and Delzell Education Center. In the upcoming months, the School of Education and the Sioux Falls School District will continue to work with the students as they explore opportunities to create a more diverse and culturally-responsive educational community.