The 6th Annual Convening for Diversifying the Teacher Workforce

The 6th Annual Convening for Diversifying the Teacher Workforce took place over the course of three weeks during the months of October and November 2023. This year’s conference theme focused on Retaining a Diverse Workforce: Teachers are Talking. Are You Listening? Throughout the three weeks, the convening focused on understanding how school culture and climate can both alienate and support a diverse teacher workforce.

The Week 1 75-minute virtual session was held on October 17, 2023, from 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm and featured two featured speakers, Mr. Eric Jones, a Field Representative in the Organizational Development Division at the New Jersey Education Association and NJEA Members of Color Director, followed by Dr. Lynnette Mawhinney, Chair of the Department of Urban Education and Professor of Urban Education at Rutgers University-Newark. Mr. Jones and Dr. Mawhinney enlightened us on what helps teachers of color to feel connected, supported, and heard in educational spaces and how these conversations extend beyond teachers and impact paraprofessionals, educational specialists, building staff, and most importantly students and families. Mr. Eric Jones and Dr. Lynnette Mawhinney shared their wonderful insights on the need for community-building within the broader teaching community, and why it is so important for us to grasp that just as students are not a monolith, teachers are not a monolith. That if we are going to support Black and Brown teachers, we need to make space for the qualities that make them distinct.

The Week 2 75-minute virtual Session was held on October 24, 2023 from 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm, and featured Julia Hazel, Director of BIPOC Career Pathways and Leadership Development in the Portland, Maine Public Schools, a role embedded in the district’s Office of People and Equity, which focuses on BIPOC recruitment and retention. Further, Dr. Dan Tulino, Assistant Professor of Education at Stockton University, served as the moderator of the Voices from the Profession. This panel of educators included Chereese Tulino from the Riverside Public Schools, Sherman Denby, of the Bridgeton Public Schools, Kevin Cataldo of the Newark Public Schools, and Ronald Johnston of the Burlington County Institute of Technology. This session provided space for educators of color to discuss and share their experiences, challenges, and hopes from the field, while also responding to questions from other educators who attended the event.

Each of the first two week’s virtual sessions were recorded for future viewing opportunities.

The week 3 culmination of this year’s convening was an in-person conference hosted by Georgian Court University, Lakewood, New Jersey. This in-person session was held on November 2, 2023 from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. This event featured a riveting keynote address by speaker, LaGarrett J. King, Associate Professor of Social Studies Education in the Department of Learning and Instruction in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo.

The Week 3 Convening began with greetings from Dr. Debbie Snyder, Assistant Dean for Accreditation & Licensure at Georgian Court University, Dr. Joseph Marbach, President of Georgian Court University, and Dr. Janice Warner, Provost of Georgian Court University, as well as a video address from Dr. Monika Williams Shealey, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Temple Univerisity. Following these opening remarks, Dr. LaChan Hannon, Director of Teacher Preparation and Innovation Faculty and Urban Education faculty at Rutgers-Newark and chairperson of the NJ Convening, introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. LaGarrett King. Dr. King’s keynote address focused on bringing together educators who seek transformative and engaging ways to teach K-12 Black history in both history and humanities courses. Further, Dr. King, shared strategies to incorporate in teachers’ classrooms that focus on content and pedagogy, active learning, support and collaboration, and instructional approaches.

Dr. King’s keynote address was followed by multiple concurrent sessions on the convening’s theme. Sessions focused on recruitment and retention strategies, alternate route programs, grow-your-own programs, and nurturing culturally responsive and sustaining teachers. The day’s activities concluded with final remarks by our acting Commissioner of Education, Angelica Allen-McMillan, Ed. D., followed by lunch.   

With over 100 educators from around the state and beyond in attendance at this year’s conference, along with many more who attended virtually during the first two weeks, our collective commitment and focus to continue to diversify the teacher workforce throughout every region in the state of New Jersey has never been clearer and more purposeful.

The 2023 Convening was co-chaired by Dr. LaChan Hannon, Director of Teacher Preparation and Innovation Faculty and Urban Education faculty at Rutgers-Newark and Ms. Debbie Snyder, Assistant Dean for Accreditation & Licensure at Georgian Court University.

For more information about this worthwhile event, click this link.   

Submitted by Daniel Tulino, Ph.D., Stockton University
on behalf of the Convening on Diversifying the Teacher Workforce Planning Committee