Friends and supporters of one the nation’s preeminent teacher diversity mentoring programs kicked off the celebration of its 25th anniversary milestone recently when they gathered at X20 Restaurant in Yonkers, during a fund-raising dinner evening program entitled “Circle of Friends: Celebrating the Vision.”
Distinguished guests including elected officials, prominent educators, business and community leaders, as well as Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT) alumni teachers joined to hail and reaffirm the non-profit’s mission of closing the critical and widening teacher diversity gap in America’s classrooms.
Noted educator Dr. Bettye H. Perkins, Founder, President and CEO of the White Plains-based organization, TSTT, said that the special event was one in a series the non-profit will present between now and the silver anniversary in 2020. Underscoring the strategic importance of TSTT’s 25th anniversary plan to help assure that TSTT’s mission will thrive, Dr. Perkins noted that TSTT long-time supporter, U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn of the 6th Congressional District, South Carolina, was named honorary chair of TSTT’s silver anniversary committee.
In a video address, the prominent and influential lawmaker, who is assistant Democratic leader and the number three Democrat in Congress, highlighted the impressive gains of TSTT’s achievements since its founding in 1994. Today, there are nearly 165 alumni teachers and school administrators who have been impacting the lives of thousands of students in eight states and more than 800 caring and committed teachers in the TSTT pipeline.
The lawmaker also cited recent major developments including the Albert Shanker Institute recognizing TSTT as one of eight programs in the country as a solution to the teacher diversity crisis in a landmark report entitled ”The State of Teachers Diversity in American Education”; the announcement earlier this fall of a partnership between TSTT and Seton Hall University that expanded the non-profit’s network of partnerships with colleges and universities to 24, making it possible to provide deserving TSTT students with a minimum of 50% tuition scholarships; and the launch of the TSTT’s first-of-its-kind, high profile Workforce Diversity Leadership Forum in which a panel of prominent educators, policy makers and business leaders addressed the crisis threatening America’s economic competitiveness including keynote Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Congressman Clyburn also lauded TSTT’s Male Teachers of Color initiative, chaired by Allan Houston, Assistant General Manager of the New York Knicks and General Manager of the Westchester Knicks, and the goal of a new partnership between Houston and the TSTT to jump start the recruitment of 50 male teachers of color to be added to the TSTT pipeline in time for the 25th anniversary.
Echoing the urgency of that initiative, Weingarten warned in her November 14 letter to Dr. Perkins that was read during the evening’s program, “The sharp decline in African-American and Latino teachers has reached a crisis point in our nation, and we stand with you in fighting to find a solution,” adding: “A diverse teaching force is vital in providing all of America’s students—especially our students of color—with the high-quality education that is their birthright. They are crucial role models for all students and multiple studies show the advantages of having teachers of color in classroom with children of color.”
The “Circle of Friends: Celebrating the Vision” honorary co-chairs were Weingarten, Houston and U.S. House of Representative Nita Lowey, 17th Congressional District, New York.
The event, which featured jazz selections by the Orange Julius Trio, was made possible by the generosity of TSTT sponsors led by Entergy, the title sponsor; United Federation of Teachers (UFT), legacy sponsor; Seton Hall University, the Jandon Foundation and Morgan Stanley, visionary sponsors, as well as by individual benefactors.