Teach Plus Launches Equity Leadership Institute Across Seven Pennsylvania School Districts

Teach Plus Launches Equity Leadership Institute Across Seven Pennsylvania School Districts

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 11, 2022—Today, Teach Plus Pennsylvania kicked off its Equity Leadership Institute (ELI), a three-year program held in collaboration with seven school districts and charter networks in Allegheny County and aimed at improving teacher diversity in the region. Research shows that teachers of color matter for all students, and especially for students of color. Pennsylvania has one of the largest student-to-teacher racial disparities in the nation, and the gap is even more pronounced in Allegheny County, where 35% of students are people of color compared to under 5% of teachers. The seven ELI districts and networks all have student bodies that are significantly more diverse than their staff and have identified educator diversity as a priority. As part of the program, these districts and networks will work to identify specific strategies to recruit and retain more teachers of color.

“The goal of Equity Leadership Institute is to bring together teacher leaders, school leaders, and systems leaders to work together through a continuous improvement process to diversify their educator workforces,” said Laura Boyce, Teach Plus Pennsylvania Executive Director. “We believe there is power in centering the voices and perspectives of teachers, particularly teachers of color, as we seek to understand and improve their experiences in schools so that more of them will enter and stay in the education system.”

During the kickoff convening, held October 11-12 at the Sherwood Event Center in Pittsburgh, all seven ELI teams will come together for the first time to learn together, collaborate, and begin developing their team action plans. Over two days, Teach Plus staff will support teams as they examine demographic and organizational data to understand their districts’ current reality and the root causes affecting recruitment and retention of teachers of color. After engaging in this analysis and learning about best practices for creating culturally affirming school environments and engaging others in change processes, teams will begin developing plans for how to start tackling the challenge of educator diversity within their contexts.

“There’s a lot of passion in Southwestern Pennsylvania for diversifying our teacher workforce given the overwhelming research on the life-changing benefits of teachers of color for all students,” said Dr. Aaron Johnson, Teach Plus Pennsylvania Program Director. “What makes the Equity Leadership Institute unique is that we are bringing together a diverse set of voices and perspectives–both within and across districts–to engage in an evidence-based and collaborative process to change district policy and practice in service of recruitment and retention of teachers of color.”

“Research tells us Black students are 13% more likely to attend college if they have one Black teacher in elementary school and 32% more likely to attend college if they have two teachers of color,” said Dr. Chuck Herring, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for South Fayette School District and the district’s team lead for this project. “We are excited to partner with Teach Plus on the Equity Leadership Institute so that all students have access to both windows and mirrors in their classrooms.”

“Growing up, I never saw myself represented in teaching at all; I only had two Black teachers in school,” said Lynetta Smith, a kindergarten teacher in Duquesne City School District. “Working in a predominantly Black school, it’s important for our students to be represented in educational roles. I’m excited to participate in the Equity Leadership Institute to share my perspective as a teacher of color and find ways to bring students of color like mine into the teaching field.”

Equity Leadership Institute is currently funded for three years through the generous support of the Heinz Endowments, with additional support anticipated from other local funders. Each year, participating district teams, made up of teacher leaders and administrators, will work together to develop and implement evidence-based plans to increase recruitment and/or retention of teachers of color through changes to district policy, practice, and school culture. Teams will engage in continuous improvement cycles and evaluate progress as they try different interventions to increase educator diversity in their districts. After the first year, districts may have the opportunity to continue their engagement with ELI for an additional year or continue their progress on their own, and additional districts will also be considered for inclusion.

Participating Districts and Networks

  • Duquesne City School District
  • Penn Hills School District
  • PIttsburgh Public Schools
  • Propel Charter Schools
  • South Fayette School District
  • Sto-Rox School District
  • Wilkinsburg School District

About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning, to create an education system driven by access and excellence for all. Teachplus.org


Contact: Anya Grottel-Brown, agrottelbrown@teachplus.org, 917-902-5902