Mortar and diploma

We Would Like to See More Teachers of Color

Research shows that teachers of color play a key role in student success, including higher academic performance, graduation rates and college enrollment. Absenteeism, suspensions and expulsions are reduced. “When you’re a teacher, your students see you as ‘making it,’” says Naome Dunnell, a clinical specialist in Teaching and Learning.

“You mean everything to them, they come to you for everything. They come to you for tissues. They come to you for lunch. They come to you when things are not good at home. They come to you for these things and they need to be able to trust you,” says Dunnell, a Montclair State Graduate School alumna and former early childhood educator in Newark, New Jersey.

“Having someone who looks like you gives you inspiration, gives you hope and gives you encouragement,” she says. “It makes a big difference.”

Dunnell grew up in Newark’s public schools. “I didn’t have that many teachers that looked like me and I think that’s one of the reasons why I am so engrossed in Newark and wanting to give back to my communities,” she says. “It’s important for black and brown children to be able to identify with grownups who look like them.”

Video by Christodoulos Apostolou

Story by Marilyn Joyce Lehren