RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A new initiative, called the Jeanes Fellows Program, was announced Thursday as a new tool in working toward a more diverse teacher workforce.

The program is a project of the Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity in Raleigh. A big part of the center’s mission is to address systemic racism by seeking changes in policy and practices to help teachers and schools meet the needs of North Carolina’s diverse student population.

The Jeanes Fellows Program is the latest piece that will contribute to that goal.

“Research shows a diverse teaching workforce benefits every student and contributes to maintaining the dignity, respect, and well-being of students and the school communities supporting them each day,” said Dr. Deanna Townsend-Smith, Senior Director of the Flood Center.

But the program had deep roots before its announcement on Thursday.

The center said this fellows program is a reimagining of the historic Jeanes Teachers program which can be traced back to 1907. That’s when a Philadelphia Quaker woman named Anna Jeanes created an endowment worth $30 million in today’s currency to be devoted to bringing talented, black educators, primarily women, into black schools in the Jim Crow South.

With these funds, the Anna Jeanes Foundation funded positions from 1908 through the early years of integration in white-controlled schools. The teachers in these positions, known as “Jeanes Teachers,” made schools the heart of activities, leadership and curriculum development in rural communities.

Historian Ann McColl said, “These teacher leaders often served as de facto superintendents of black schools.  Their unique approach to creating a path of meaningful freedom and an ethic of care for students and communities was lost during integration and the assimilation of roles with positions held by whites. The Jeanes Fellows reimagines this role.”

GOALS OF THE FELLOWS PROGRAM

The Jeanes Fellows Program is aimed providing true inclusivity for kids in North Carolina. To do this, the fellows will be led to actions outlined in these three foundational plans:

  • The Leandro Action Plan
    • A few key recommendations called for a qualified and well-prepared teach in every classroom as well as guidance for finance and resource allocations.
  • DRIVE Task Force Final Report and Recommendations
    • Report of 10 key recommendations to increase teacher diversity. Recommendations of the report include affordable postsecondary access, diversity goals for schools and districts and support networks for educators of color.
  • NC State Board of Education Statewide Strategic Plan
    • A plan grounded in the principles of equity with targeted goals to be fulfilled by 2025. Aims of the plan include eliminating opportunity gaps, improving school and district performance and increasing educator preparedness to meet the need of every student.

The center’s namesake, Dr. Dudley Flood said, “We have already studied the issue and understand clearly what students need to succeed in schools. As adults, we must have the will to respond through action.”

This program of the Dudley Flood Center takes what the center called the “next needed action” by addressing teacher pipeline and diversity issues to expand opportunity and access for both students and educators.

To learn more about the Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity and to see a list of events and resources, you can visit www.ncforum.org/floodcenter.