Future Educators of Color Find Inspiration at National Conference

7 Stockton students interested in becoming educators attended the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) annual conference in Philadelphia from April 11-14.

Galloway, N.J. – Ian Bouie was inspired by what he saw at the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) annual conference in Chicago last year. He decided to pay it forward and encourage future educators of color by taking 7 Stockton students to the same conference – this time in Philadelphia from April 11-14.

According to Bouie, director of Academic Achievement Programs, this renowned conference boasts of having thousands of attendees and presentations over the course of four days. Exposure to research and scholarly environments like this is a whole other world for some students, making it the perfect place for them to feel both represented and inspired.

“Not only would students be exposed to research, but we hoped that this would get their minds to consider graduate school if they have not already.  If they were already considering graduate school, the thought was that those dreams of a master's could transform into dreams of a doctorate,” Bouie said. “It was also important that these students of color, some who were first-generation, were able to see faculty and researchers who looked like them, so they could see the infinite amount of career trajectories that lay before them.” 

Students and (Interim) Dean Kimberly Dickerson holding suitcases
Photo submitted by Ian Bouie. 

This is evidenced by the students who attended. Ivanna Taveras, who is majoring in Historical Studies with a concentration in K-12 Education, said her favorite session was a symposium on ethnic studies that emphasized how self-affirming these kinds of courses are for undergraduate students in predominantly white institutions.

“I listened to different discussions over the study of racism and its intersection with other forms of white supremacy as it is affected - and is resisted by - Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latinx, Arab and other racially minoritized people. It was my favorite session because I am interested in teaching ethnic studies myself (either Latinx or Black) when I become an educator in the near future,” Taveras said.

Nana-Akosua Oduro, a Psychology major with a concentration in Elementary Education, appreciated learning more about the Waldorf method of teaching and how Black female educators at the conference incorporated Afrocentric principles in their lessons. The most impactful lesson for Oduro, however, was learning about the school-to-prison pipeline’s effect on students.

“During a session I attended, Dr. LaTory Jacobs, a school principal in Texas, researched the school-to-prison pipeline and stated that 90% of surveyed teachers had never heard of it. I want to implement the lesson she taught and not use punitive punishments in my classroom to make my students feel safe in school,” Oduro said. “Schools should be a haven, not something children want to run away from.”

Both Taveras and Oduro believe that the conference will benefit their trajectories as future educators. Taveras takes it a step further and says that it could impact students of all majors and disciplines.

Dean Dickerson and students at the conference
Photo submitted by Ian Bouie. 

“I think (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) students should attend conferences like these because it opens up room for opportunities for professional and personal growth for young student leaders that might not have gotten exposure to other professionals and scholars that look like them and were once in their shoes,” Taveras, from Pleasantville, said.

“Conferences like this benefit students and can expand knowledge. I know I’ve been relating the things I’m learning to my classes and sharing them with my professors,” Oduro of Sicklerville said. “It also gives such an amazing opportunity to network with accomplished professionals, which is so valuable. I met so many people and was able to ask any questions I wanted. I think students should take opportunities like this when Stockton presents them.”

Bouie, inspired by a conversation with Ashlee Roberts, executive director of Student Affairs, collaborated on and applied for a Compass Fund grant to provide funding for the initiative with Kimberly Dickerson, interim dean of the School of Education.

A Conversation with Erin Gruwell

Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 4-5 p.m.
Alton Auditorium
As a teacher in Long Beach, CA, she changed the lives of her high school students. Erin was portrayed by Academy Award-winning actor Hilary Swank in the 2007 movie Freedom Writers. Through the Freedom Writers Foundation, Erin currently teaches educators around the world how to implement her innovative lesson plans in their own classrooms. 

This event is co-sponsored by the School of Education, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Division of Student Affairs,
the Stockton University Foundation, the Multicultural Center and the Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center.

Conference Emphasizes Importance of Teachers of Color

May 18, 2023 

Students in one of the sessions for the Future Teachers of Color Conference, held on May 17. Photo by Mark Melhorn.
Students in one of the sessions for the Future Teachers of Color Conference, held on May 17. Photo by Mark Melhorn.

Galloway, N.J. — A recent study found that over 50 schools in New Jersey don’t employ a single teacher of color, even though, according to the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), students of color make up over 50% of state schools.

In response to the wide disparity, faculty members Stacey Culleny and Meg White of the School of Education created an all-day conference for high school students to promote the field of education.

The Future Teachers of Color Conference came to fruition May 17 with more than 200 local students in attendance. 

White remembered seeing a student walk into one of the sessions and immediately point out one of the many multicultural posters adorning the walls. On them were various philosophers, artists and authors of color, and lessons in Math and English from different parts of the world, including India. The Indian student smiled as he told White about the poster and what he liked about it which affirmed White’s goal of centering the experiences of people of color in education for this conference.

“That’s what we’re trying to do here, right? It’s all about representation,” White said. “Like for him to come in and feel this way after seeing a poster… I almost got a little teary over that.” 

The conference included breakout sessions where students learned about the significance of teacher-student relationships from two-time Stockton alumna (and current doctoral candidate for the Ed.D. program) Brenda Brathwaite of the Atlantic City School District and the power of coaching, advising and mentoring by Cynthia Sanchez-Munoz, Tim Watson and Randy Dean of Cedar Creek High School.  

– Story by Loukaia Taylor

– Photos submitted