Teaching is one of the first professions we are introduced to as children. However, only four percent of high school graduates in the U.S. pursue a degree in education, according to data collected in 2015 from ACT participants.
Out of that population, 23 percent are African American or Hispanic. The Alliance for Black and Latino Teachers is working in hopes of changing that.
ABLT began in the classroom of English professor Darolyn Jones three years ago.
“I was in Dr. Jones’ class my freshman year and there were three other African Americans and she was like, ‘Wow, this is the most I’ve ever seen'," said Kayla Veal, ABLT co-founder and a junior secondary English education major. "We provided different point of views to the class conversation and we [Veal and other founding members] kind of went up to her like 'we want to keep this going.'"
The organization has been active for six semesters at Ball State and now members are bringing the organization to Muncie Central in hopes of gaining student interest in the education field.
“We are working with students at Central High School and talking to them about the good news of teaching and encouraging them to go into teaching," Jones said. "We’re hoping to really be a mentor to them and help them get their grades up ... and talk to them about the pathway to getting to college, and ... hopefully encourage them to go to Ball State.”
After the merger with the high school, ABLT is now working toward forming a working relationship with Longfellow Elementary during the spring semester. The goal is to help members and future teachers gain real-world experience through writing and implementing a lesson plan.
“When we bring it down to the elementary level, we want to first work with them [members at Central] this semester, get them interested in teaching, the benefits of teaching, everything like that," Veal said. "Then we want to partner with them one-on-one with an education student. We also have some faculty that are interested that do the STEM areas that can teach them how to write lesson plans."
In order to help promote the diversity in the high school, Stephen Merkle, a Muncie Central English teacher and chairperson, volunteered to help the ABLT merge with the high school.
“The careers are heavily lopsided in racial diversity and that is one of the reasons that I wanted to get involved," Merkle said. "I want these kids to be able to think that they can go into a career where they can become representative of their culture in education because it should reflect society. It shouldn’t be very much populated by one race and one culture because then you don’t get the influences of diverse backgrounds."
The group was created to help minorities find a safe place in education; however, Merkle points out that the goal is not only to promote education as a career to minorities, but as a career to everyone.
"Anybody can come. The hope is that we get a diverse group of people, but anybody that’s interested or curious, we wanna accept all and show them that that’s the goal of this — that education as a job, as a career is accepting of everybody," Merkle said.