Trailblazer Coalition

The Trailblazer Coalition

Nine teacher prepa­ra­tion pro­grams in Mid­dle Ten­nessee have come togeth­er in an unprece­dent­ed alliance to col­lec­tive­ly address the issue of teacher diver­si­ty in Metro Nashville Pub­lic Schools. The Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion rec­og­nizes that in order for MNPS to recruit and retain more teach­ers of col­or there must be a more diverse pipeline of teacher can­di­dates.

Fix­ing Bro­ken Pipeline
That pipeline is cur­rent­ly bro­ken; research from the Brook­ings Insti­tute last year chal­lenged teacher prepa­ra­tion pro­grams and com­mu­ni­ties to think dif­fer­ent­ly about teacher diver­si­ty efforts. The report stat­ed “mak­ing seri­ous pro­gress toward a teacher work­force which is as diverse as the stu­dents it serves will require excep­tion­al­ly ambi­tious patch­es to fix the leaky pipeline into the teach­ing pro­fes­sion …. because efforts face obsta­cles at every point nec­es­sary to become a teacher” (Put­nam, Hansen, Wal­sh, & Quin­tero, 2016).

The anal­o­gy of the bro­ken pipeline forces stake­hold­ers to rec­og­nize that it is not enough to call upon local dis­tricts to hire more teach­ers of col­or. The entire com­mu­ni­ty must come togeth­er to address the mul­ti­tude of points along the pipeline that are leak­ing.

Fix­ing a pipeline with leaks at every turn requires a com­pre­hen­sive mul­ti-pronged approach sup­port­ed by the col­lab­o­ra­tion and inno­va­tion of many com­mu­ni­ty part­ners.  Only when all com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers work togeth­er to build com­pre­hen­sive solu­tions that tar­get insti­tu­tion­al bar­ri­ers will Ten­nessee begin to diver­si­fy the teacher work­force in mean­ing­ful ways.

The Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion is com­mit­ted to rais­ing aware­ness and chang­ing the con­ver­sa­tion around teacher diver­si­ty. Instead of a vari­ety con­ver­sa­tions cur­rent­ly occur­ring in siloes, the Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion believes all stake­hold­ers must con­vene to focus on our abil­i­ty for col­lec­tive impact. Every com­mu­ni­ty mem­ber has a role to play in solu­tions, and all orga­ni­za­tions with a stake in teacher diver­si­ty must address fault in their own poli­cies and pro­grams, and sup­port part­ners in doing the same.

The Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion has iden­ti­fied five key areas that must change in order to fix the pipeline:

Promoting Teaching
as a Transformative Practice
Equitable Access to
Licensure & Testing
Teacher Retention & Success
Financial Systems
culture in
teacher prep programs

The Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion spent its first year of work, the 2016–2017 grant cycle, study­ing the bar­ri­ers that pre­vent peo­ple of col­or in Nashville from choos­ing edu­ca­tion as a career path. The Coali­tion felt a strong need to lis­ten to the com­mu­ni­ty first before propos­ing a plan of action  –  with two pre­dom­i­nant­ly white insti­tu­tions and one brand new pro­gram at the helm did not want to posi­tion our­selves as experts. Most research around teacher diver­si­ty has focused on speci­fic pop­u­la­tions such as black men or His­pan­ic teach­ers or has looked at areas like Tex­as, Cal­i­for­nia with long tra­di­tions of immi­gra­tion. Strate­gies from the­se areas will not work for Mid­dle Ten­nessee and its unique con­text! The Coali­tion also want­ed to hear from many dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers rep­re­sent­ing the broad diver­si­ty found in Mid­dle Ten­nessee. The Coali­tion con­duct­ed a research project with two prongs: a sur­vey project reach­ing 420 area high school and col­lege stu­dents about their per­cep­tions of the teach­ing pro­fes­sion, and a series of 19 focus groups with dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers, rang­ing from cur­rent can­di­dates and teach­ers of col­or, up through com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, par­ents, and fac­ul­ty at teacher prep pro­grams.

Read a sum­ma­ry of our research projects and the key themes and find­ings.

The Coali­tion used this project and its results to dri­ve the cre­ation of its group and defin­ing its pri­or­i­ties. At the end of its first year of work, the Coali­tion host­ed a com­mu­ni­ty event at Casa Azafrán to share its work and to host col­lab­o­ra­tive con­ver­sa­tions with a vari­ety of com­mu­ni­ty part­ners.

Down­load the Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion Report

Watch a video about the Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion

Read a sum­ma­ry of the com­mu­ni­ty con­ver­sa­tions about the bar­ri­ers to becom­ing a teacher in Mid­dle-Ten­nessee

Now in its sec­ond year, the Trail­blaz­er Coali­tion is focus­ing its work on reduc­ing those bar­ri­ers through advo­ca­cy, col­lec­tive action and imple­men­ta­tion of prac­ti­cal solu­tions. The Coali­tion intends to spend this year:

Mon­i­tor­ing and sup­port­ing growth inter­nal­ly in mem­ber pro­grams to bet­ter sup­port can­di­dates of col­or

 Devel­op­ing a strong part­ner­ship with MNPS high schools who have a cur­ricu­lum focused on recruit­ing future teach­ers, which will entail two to three meet­ings each school year between EPP fac­ul­ty & high school teach­ers, and reg­u­lar coor­di­na­tion of guest speak­ers for the dif­fer­ent high school class­rooms.

 Devel­op­ing a plan for a Prax­is prep pro­gram com­plete with cur­ricu­lum, struc­ture, and fund­ing pro­pos­al, that would be avail­able to any teacher can­di­date in any pro­gram in Mid­dle Ten­nessee

The Coali­tion intends to host anoth­er com­mu­ni­ty event at the end of its sec­ond year of work, in sum­mer 2018. All inter­est­ed com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers are encour­aged to attend.

For More Information

To learn how you or your orga­ni­za­tion can get involved, con­tact lead part­ner Lau­ra Del­gado, Pro­gram Direc­tor for the Pio­nero Schol­ars Pro­gram at Lip­scomb Uni­ver­si­ty.

Steering Committee

Lau­ra Del­gado
Lip­scomb Uni­ver­si­ty
Pro­gram Direc­tor, Pio­nero Schol­ars

Dr. Ran­dall Lahann
Nashville Teacher Res­i­den­cy

Dr. Jew­ell Winn
Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty
Deputy Chief Diver­si­ty Offi­cer

Coalition Members

Lip­scomb Uni­ver­si­ty
Dr. Kara Krinks
Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor

Bel­mont Uni­ver­si­ty
Dr. Mona Ivey-Soto
Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Edu­ca­tion

Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty
Dr. Eliz­a­beth Self
Lec­tur­er and Sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion Licen­sure Pro­gram
Dr. Tere­sa Dun­leavy
Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of the Prac­tice of Math­e­mat­ics Edu­ca­tion

Austin Peay State Uni­ver­si­ty
Dr. Antho­ny Sanders
Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor
Dr. Char­maine Lowe
Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor

Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty
Dr. Kisha Bryan
Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor

Cum­ber­land Uni­ver­si­ty
Dr. Kim Finch
Pro­gram Direc­tor for Instruc­tion­al Lead­er­ship
Jen­nifer Novo
Direc­tor, Office of Stu­dent Suc­cess

Teach for Amer­i­ca of Greater Nashville
Dr. Kev­in Hag­gard
Direc­tor of School Part­ner­ships & Recruit­ment

Relay Grad­u­ate School of Edu­ca­tion
Arik Shur
Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions