KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An organization that removes barriers for new black teachers in Kansas City, Missouri celebrates two early successes.
First, Teachers Like Me helped increase the percentage of black teachers in Kansas City public schools by 1 percent this school year. Second, it completed construction on the first of several planned homes for the program’s teachers to live in at discounted rates.
“We’re moving very fast,” admitted Teachers Like Me founder Dr. Trinity Davis.
Teachers Like Me is based on the concept that black students learn best from black teachers. Nationwide studies support the theory; pointing out that 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. She does this by offering mentoring, instructional planning, and discounted rent on homes she owns. Teachers Like Me works with UMKC students studying to be educators and new classroom teachers. The program works with new teachers for three years. UMKC students are eligible during their undergraduate career and first three years of teaching.
Davis thanked for the donation of several vacant lots in the Manheim Park neighborhood. Teachers Like Me is building several homes near 41st Street and Tracy Avenue for teachers. The former opened this month, while the latter is expected to open in August.
The first house has enough space to accommodate six adults. Three high school English teachers have moved, including Kareem Wall.
“My first week in the precinct, I lost my house,” Wall said, explaining that a landlord evicted him and his roommate in August. “So for the first six months in the district I was really homeless.”
Teachers like me have stepped in to provide affordable housing. Now Wall can focus on the classroom where she is making a difference in a district where 54% of students are black and 18% of teachers are black.
“It’s very impressive because there are times when students come in and they’re like I’m my first black teacher, and I didn’t think I had that much of an impact on them,” admitted Wall.
Currently, Teachers Like Me works closely with Kansas City public schools. It could expand in the next school year. Dr. Davis is also considering expanding across the country.