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A Fund for Future Teachers

November 19, 2018

An initiative designed by Lasell College received a gift from the Flatley Foundation to fund financial aid packages for students of diverse backgrounds who enter the institution's education program.

The initiative, Pathways to Teacher Diversity (PTD), was established in 2016 by Associate Professor Claudia Rinaldi, Ph.D., with an initial grant of $50,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE).

Unlike most teacher training programs in the Commonwealth, PTD was created to increase the number of teachers with diverse backgrounds by recruiting middle and high school students from partnering schools statewide. Once they join PTD, these students are mentored by Lasell education majors, have the opportunity to cross-register for introductory education classes, and are provided with valuable guidance and support in navigating the college admissions process. The PTD scholarship will offer expanded opportunities for those students.

"We are incredibly grateful for this much-needed grant," said Rinaldi, program director of education at Lasell. "Embracing diversity in our communities is an essential goal in education, and giving middle and high school students the opportunity to interact with role models who represent a variety of cultural and racial backgrounds is the first step."

She noted that the funding will encourage these target students to pursue a college degree, which in turn will have an "enormous impact" on the educational landscape in the country and Massachusetts, in particular.

Rinaldi developed Pathways to Teacher Diversity in response to MA DESE's call for teacher training programs to address the need for a more diverse workforce. To date, 90 percent of Massachusetts teachers are identified as white while 40 percent of students across the state are nonwhite. In urban areas, the racial and linguistic discrepancies among teachers and their students are often more pronounced. To help build a pipeline of educators who better reflect the Commonwealth's diverse communities, MA DESE provided a total of $200,000 in grant money to fund four proposals submitted by teacher training programs across the state. Lasell is the only private college to receive the MA DESE funding.

As part of her program, Rinaldi established partnerships with schools in six districts - Marlborough, Maynard, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Milford, and Boston - engaging district administrators, principals, middle and high school educators, and more than 126 underrepresented minority students to date. 

On December 5, 2018, approximately 30 students in the newest PTD cohort will visit Lasell. Their day will include a campus tour, mentoring activities with Lasell education students, and visits to two education courses.