Alumni Guest Series

Increasing Teacher Diversity through Community Engagement

Throughout the year, The Broad Center’s Collaboration and Learning team curates multiple events, known as Emerging Practices Exchange (EPEx), to help network members collectively work to solve challenges that they are facing in their work. The 2- to 3-day events focus on various topics, including operations and student supports, DE&I, talent and human capital, and community engagement.

Felipe Perez (The Broad Residency 2013-2015) is the Executive Director of Teacher Recruitment and Talent Pipelines at Chicago Public Schools. Felipe joined the recent Community Engagement EPEx in Los Angeles to gain insights on how he and his team can increase diversity within the teacher workforce by building a community recruitment strategy. Read about his challenge and what he learned.

Why did you choose to attend EPEx?

I decided to attend EPEx to generate ideas and learn about well-established practices that could support the work that we are doing to build a diverse teacher pipeline. One area of opportunity includes identifying and breaking down our own silos to best move the work forward. For example, our talent team, which is working to diversify our teacher workforce, has not traditionally worked closely with our post-secondary team, which is looking to boost the college graduation rates of our very diverse alumni. Creating that explicit supported pathway from high school to college to a career, potentially in education, presents a huge opportunity to support one another’s work for the benefit of our graduates. Additionally, there are opportunities for our recruitment team to increase collaboration with our family and community engagement team to continue to build credibility as an employer while becoming a more community-serving institution.

What was your biggest takeaway?

One consistent theme is that in community engagement work, we can be most effective by being thoughtful about what we are doing to empower and give voice to our partners as opposed to plugging them into our project plan as a resource. Examples include seeking ways to co-design and co-lead with community partners. As our district seeks to recruit and grow more teachers from the communities we serve, the school district, frankly, is not always seen as the most credible voice, even when we are speaking to shared values and shared interests. But if we take the time to build trust by actually listening (rather than “presenting”) and evolving our strategy and tactics based on that feedback, not only do we gain credibility, but we amplify our recruitment efforts by activating these partners as informal recruiters.

What action do you plan to take after the session?

This experience has been a powerful reminder that even though for us as a district, we are breaking new ground, that doesn’t mean it’s new ground for everyone. I was exposed to another organization which already has a well-established toolkit so now we can save resources by not reinventing it. I plan to reconnect to learn from their tools, processes and data which will inform our approach to building our pipeline. It was a tangible reminder that we all have passionate colleagues across the country who are working to improve our country’s school systems and we just need to pick up the phone and call for help.

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