Local non-profit aims to bridge the diversity gap within public schools

American public school students are getting more diverse. About half of today’s pupils now identify with a racial or ethnic minority.

In 2017, the National Center for Education Statistics found that about 80 percent of the teachers in public schools are white.

A local after-school program, Coaching 4 Change, is trying to inspire future teachers who will reflect the changing demographics.

"Coaching 4 Change is a program that works with school districts that want to build a diverse teacher pipeline," explained Marquis Taylor, the founder of the non-profit.  "If we are going to move the needle on what’s happening in our society, in our communities, we must make sure that our teachers represent our students."

Makeda Van Horne is about to graduate from the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth and wants to be a teacher. She’s currently one of the mentors in Coaching 4 Change.

“I had one teacher who believed in me," said Van Home. "I want to be that teacher for these kids."

Given her life experiences, Van Horne believes she’ll be able to connect more easily with her future students. "I’ve probably seen everything that they’ve seen or worse, but I also know how it feels to say, 'I can do it, I will do it, and I have done it.'"

Marquis Taylor started Coaching 4 Change after making it through his own rough start in life. Sports was his salvation, but he wants students to know about all of the options in front of them, like becoming a teacher.

“If a kid is growing up in the local projects, or they’re in a single parent home, this is an amazing way for them to go from the low income to the middle class,” explained Taylor.

Fall River School Superintendent Matthew Malone likes the overall philosophy behind this program.

“We know that extending the day isn’t just about more math or more science," said Malone. "It’s about connectivity between content and enrichment. We have to get creative and allow for more project-based learning.”

Taunton is the other school system in Massachusetts that currently hosts Coaching 4 Change.

The program currently draws college students from Bridgewater State University, UMass-Dartmouth, and Stonehill College.