Aspiring teachers get guided through system

February 3, 2012 12:25:50 AM PST
A non-profit group is guiding dozens of people hoping to become the next wave of Oakland teachers.

The aspiring teachers are getting a crash course on what it's going to take to get a job in the Oakland Unified School District. Most are minorities who grew up in Oakland.

"I was once one of those kids who was misunderstood and I have a clear understanding of what's going on out there; I can help them," aspiring teacher Deryk Hudson said.

The non-profit, federally funded group, Teach Tomorrow in Oakland thinks so too, which is why they recruited the diverse pool of applicants. They're hoping minority teachers can help turn around the district's dropout rate, which is now around 40 percent. Most of the dropouts are minority boys.

"And so we need to have young men who can see young African American men, who are teaching, who are leading schools in front of them who are right there engaging them using the types of strategies that they need to keep them in class," Teach Tomorrow in Oakland spokesperson Rachelle Rogers-Ard said.

According to information collected from the state, 92 percent of the students in Oakland Unified are minorities. But when it comes to the teaching staff, less than half are people of color.

Cheryl Moore, a former city worker, says she was so tired of hearing those numbers that she decided to come out of retirement to earn her teaching credential. She says she'll be able to talk to black students in a way others may not.

"I might look like a mama figure to them and can say it in a way, like, 'sit yourself down,' where as a white teacher may not say it that way," Moore said.

For people with a bachelor's degree, it's going to take up to a year and a half to get their credential. Teach Tomorrow in Oakland will be helping them every step of the way. The group is counting on these applicants to change the look of Oakland schools.

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