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    The Academy of Rising Educators (ARE)
    Posted on 07/02/2020
    Maria and Lourienne Dupaya

    The Academy of Rising Educators (ARE)

    Seattle Public Schools is committed to teacher diversity. The Academy of Rising Educators (ARE) is one way we are hiring and recruiting more educators of color.

    ARE prepares and supports candidates that model three program goals. Candidates are rooted in our communities. They are dedicated to long-term teaching and they are committed to anti-racist teaching to support students furthest away from educational justice.

    The program helps recent graduates, current SPS staff, and community members earn their teaching certificate. In partnership with Seattle Central College, City University, Seattle Teacher Residency, University of Washington Special Education High Incidence Program, Seattle University, and the City of Seattle, it provides candidates tuition, academic, and wrap-around supports.

    Research shows that students thrive when their teachers reflect the diversity of our community. This year, we have more participants enrolled in the program and more candidates of color who have enrolled. The 2020-21 cohort is two times larger than last year and has four times as many African American male candidates.

    Two of the newest candidates enrolled in the program are Maria and Lourienne Dupaya. Lourienne is a recent graduate of Cleveland High School. Her mother Maria is a Preschool Instructional Assistant at South Shore PreK-8.

    Before working in SPS, Maria was a high school teacher in the Philippines. She said she fell in love with teaching again when she volunteered in her son’s Head Start class at South Shore and began teaching through song.

    “I just discovered that I can teach through singing,” Maria said. “Especially with preschoolers, kids learn just by singing. It’s universal. Kids and adults love music.”

    The program was created to support innovative educators of color, like Maria, who are rooted in the community. By transforming the workforce, the program can help transform schools. This includes hiring future educators who are rooted in communities.

    As a recent SPS graduate, Lourienne can connect with students through shared experience. Throughout high school, Lourienne volunteered as a reading coach with district partner Team Read. She made an instant connection with her first student.

    “I remember on our last day, she said that she wanted to become a teacher like me,” Lourienne recalled of working with her first student. “When I had that connection with my student, I could see myself doing this in the future. You can really make an impact.”

    The ARE program also focuses on keeping passionate educators like Lourienne in the district through networking and mentorship opportunities. By connecting students with experienced educators, the program supports anti-racist, long-term teaching.

    Renae GainesRenaé Gaines is one of the first graduates of the program who will join this network of educators. Gaines graduated from Garfield High School in 1983 and has worked as a paraeducator in the district since 2003. A member of the 2019-20 cohort, she is now moving on to pursue her bachelor’s degree and teacher certification.

    “The program has provided me an opportunity to satisfy a lifelong dream of becoming a certificated teacher, and this year has been amazing,” Gaines said. “I look forward to having the opportunity to continue to promote equitable access to education and remove barriers to academic success for the students of Seattle Public Schools.”

    The Academy of Rising Educators supports the Culturally Responsive Workforce goal of the district’s strategic plan Seattle Excellence. We will continue to share stories of ARE candidates to highlight their work and dedication. Learn more about the work to diversify the workforce and engage in anti-racist teaching practices.

    For more information regarding ARE, please visit the program webpage or email Kenderick O. Wilson (K.O.) at