KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An organization which removes barriers for new Black teachers in Kansas City, Missouri, is celebrating two early successes.
First, Teachers Like Me helped increase the percentage of Black teachers in Kansas City Public Schools by 1% this school year. Second, it completed building the first of several planned houses for teachers in the program to live at discounted rates.
“We’re moving really fast,” admitted Teachers Like Me founder Dr. Trinity Davis.
Teachers Like Me is built on the concept that Black students learn best from Black teachers. Nationwide studies support the theory; pointing out Black students are more likely to enroll in college if they have a teacher who looks like them by the third grade.
The Kansas City-based organization’s goal is to recruit, develop and retain Black teachers. It does so by offering mentorship, instructional planning and discounted rent in houses it owns. Teachers Like Me works with students at UMKC studying to become educators and new classroom teachers. The program works with new teachers for three years. UMKC students can benefit throughout their college career and first three years of teaching.
Davis said thanks for the donation of several empty lots in the Manheim Park neighborhood. Teachers Like Me is building several homes near 41st Street and Tracy Avenue for teachers. The first opened this month, while the second should open in August.
The first house has enough space to house six adults. Three high school English teachers moved in, including Kareem Wall.
“My first week in the district, I lost my home,” Wall said, explaining that a landlord evicted him and his roommate in August. “So for the first six months in the district I was actually homeless.”
Teachers Like Me stepped in to provide affordable housing. Now, Wall can focus on the classroom where he is making a difference in a district where 54% of students are Black and 18% of teachers are Black.
“It’s very awe-inspiring because there are moments where students will come in and be like you’re my first Black teacher, and I didn’t think I was having that level on impact on them,” Wall admitted.
Currently, Teachers Like Me works strictly with Kansas City Public Schools. It may expand this upcoming school year. Dr. Davis is considering even branching out around the country.