How old were you when you had your first male teacher? In what grade were you in when you had your first African-American teacher? When did you first have a teacher that was not representative of your race or ethnicity? Answers to these questions illuminate a well-documented cultural divide between K-12 populations and the professionals that are responsible for their education. In many instances, white female teachers are responsible for educating a culturally diverse, student population in most, major metropolitan cities. This cultural divide has not only impacted student performance, but has limited the scope and aspirations of multiple generations. With limited to no role models for minoritized students in education, recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations in education is a priority.

To address this area of growth, the Office of School & Community Partnerships and the Office of Teacher Recruitment are initiating the M.E.N.T.O.R. program through funding from the UNC Charlotte Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund. M.E.N.T.O.R. stands for: “Making Education for New Teachers Obtain Results.” Minoritized student teacher candidates will be assigned to a clinical educator of the same race/ethnicity during the year-long internship (YLI) experience. The first semester of the YLI requires the student teacher candidate to complete clinical hours while taking final coursework prior to the student teaching semester. During the student teaching semester, the candidate is responsible for not only observation, but gradually assumes responsibility for all teacher duties while embedded in the clinical educator’s classroom. The investigators for this study believe that these pairings will: 1) provide needed social/emotional/cultural support for the candidate; 2) provide the candidate a “model” for success and longevity in the career of education; and 3) serve as an incentive for students under their instruction to explore teaching as a profession.

The investigators do not believe that these pairings alone will promote a career in education for the student teacher. Multiple professional development opportunities, seminars, and workshops will be made available to not only the student teacher, but also the clinical educator. These on-going engagements for the clinical educator’s and student teacher’s will: 1) benefit the student populations they serve; 2) promote their efficiency in and out of the classroom; and 3) keep them up to date on current trends and best practices in the classroom.

Applicants are being considered for the Spring 2024 and Spring 2025 semesters. Please click here to express your interest in becoming a M.E.N.T.O.R. teaching candidate today!