Rowan’s College of Education, Department of Education work together to promote diversity in NJ teacher workforce

Rowan’s College of Education, Department of Education work together to promote diversity in NJ teacher workforce


Rowan University’s College of Education is teaming up with the New Jersey Department of Education on a program to increase and retain diversity in K-12 teaching with a specific focus on men from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds.

Funded through a $475,000 grant from the Department of Education, the program, Men of Color Hope Achievers (MOCHA), will focus on recruiting, preparing, supporting and retaining males of color to earn certification through an alternate route program.

The goal is to focus on central and southern New Jersey school districts to maximize the opportunity to diversify the teacher pipeline and to address shortages in those schools, according to Gaëtane Jean-Marie, dean of Rowan’s College of Education and principal investigator on the grant.

The college has an excellent track record of implementing programs that engage in rigorous recruitment and support strategies for teacher candidates, the dean said.

“We are committed to addressing crucial issues impacting our P-12 schools and districts in South Jersey,” Jean-Marie said.

MOCHA was developed in response to legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy to create a two-year pilot program to increase the access of disadvantaged or minority men to high-quality teaching opportunities, particularly in underperforming school districts.

Rowan will recruit 25 participants each year for MOCHA. Program participants could enter the program now and begin teaching as early as September, according to Jean-Marie.

The program builds upon ASPIRE to Teach, an alternate route program already in place at Rowan in which eligible aspiring teachers who have not completed traditional teacher training programs can achieve teaching certification.

MOCHA will provide professional development training and mentoring/coaching to men in the program as they work to successfully achieve teacher certification, according to Jean-Marie.

Rowan will collect data to study the program’s success. Additionally, the University will work collaboratively to create a community mentor network for program participants.

“Our district partners are excited to be involved in this initiative as we work together to diversify the field and address teacher shortages,” Jean-Marie said.

According to data provided by schools to the Department of Education last school year, children of color make up 59 percent of New Jersey’s student population, but teachers of color represent just 17 percent of the educator workforce.

“The partnership between the NJDOE and Rowan University is an important initiative that will impact student learning,” said Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education.

“When we have an educator workforce that is more reflective of the students they teach, it builds positive perceptions among all children. Moreover, research has found that students of color who are taught by at least one teacher of color tend to have higher test scores and graduation rates.”

Co-principal investigators on the grant include: Cori Brown, associate professor of interdisciplinary and inclusive education and director of ASPIRE to Teach; Stacey Leftwich, executive director of the Office of Educator Support and Partnerships; Midge Madden, associate professor in the Department of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Education;  and Issam Abi-El-Mona, associate professor, and Cory Dixon, assistant professor, in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Education.